THE ALIEN TORT CLAIMS ACT
95
or a U.S. treaty. If the Supreme Court rules that aliens may not sue cor-
porate defendants under the ATCA, the very purpose of the statute — to
provide for the compensation of foreign tort victims and deter violators of
international law — is defeated. Judge Posner highlighted the absurd re-
sult of denying corporate liability for heinous violations of international law
in
Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co.
. Using this sort of logic, Judge
Posner writes, “a pirate can be sued under the Alien Tort Statute, but not a
pirate corporation.
16
V. The Specific Rationale for Suing Corporate
Human Rights Violators
The plaintiff’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari in
Kiobel
only addresses the
narrow question of whether corporations can be sued under the ATCA like
any other individual defendant
.
17
Neither party in
Kiobel
has asked the
Court to determine whether the specific acts alleged in the case (torture,
extra-judicial executions, and crimes against humanity) violate the law of
nations. Indeed, the corporate liability issue is of far greater consequence
to past, present, and current human rights victims than whether or not par-
ticular acts of Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell violate the law of nations.
Allowing corporations to be sued under the ATCA is so crucial because,
in the absence of corporate liability, victims may be left with, for all prac-
tical purposes, no remedy. This violates the first tenet of tort law because
victims would only be allowed to sue individual tortfeasors who may be
16
Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co.
,
.
17
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
,
.
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