In August 2000, the District Court for the Central District of California issued summary judgment against Burmese plaintiffs suing U.S. multinational Unocal for its pipeline project in Burma. Alleging egregious human rights violations by Burmese soldiers tasked with providing security for the project, the fifteen plaintiffs argued that Unocal was both aware of and benefited from these abuses and thus should be held liable pursuant to the Alien Tort Claim Act ("ATCA"). While not questioning the plaintiffs' allegations, the court concluded in Doe v. Unocal Corp. that Unocal's connection to human rights abuses was insufficient to establish liability under the "law of nations," the litmus test for an ATCA claim.
ATCA's Achilles Heel: Corporate Complicity, International Law and the Alien Tort Claims Act,
Yale J. Int'l L.
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