High court backs Nestle, Cargill in child slave labor suit

Thursday, June 17, 2021 | Jessica Gresko, Associated Press


In this Nov. 4, 2020 file photo, The Supreme Court is seen in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court sided with food giants Nestle and Cargill on Thursday and threw out a lawsuit that claimed they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labor.

The justices ruled 8-1 that an appeals court improperly let the lawsuit against the food companies go forward. The companies had been sued by a group of six adult citizens of Mali who claimed they were taken from their country as children and forced to work on cocoa farms in neighboring Ivory Coast.

“Although respondents’ injuries occurred entirely overseas, the Ninth Circuit held that respondents could sue in federal court because the defendant corporations allegedly made ‘major operational decisions’ in the United States. The Ninth Circuit erred by allowing this suit to proceed,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a majority opinion for the court.

The case had been twice dismissed at an early stage before being revived by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. When the case was argued in December, then-President Donald Trump's administration backed Nestle and Cargill.

The Malian citizens had argued that Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle “aided and abetted” their slavery as children by, among other things, buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labor. The group sued seeking to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and who they say are thousands of other former child slaves.

Nestle and Cargill have maintained throughout the case that they have done nothing wrong and that they have taken steps to combat child slavery. In statements following the ruling both Nestle and Cargill repeated that they remain committed to working to combat child labor in the cocoa industry.

The case involves a law enacted by the very first Congress in 1789, the Alien Tort Statute, which permits foreign citizens to sue in U.S. courts for human rights abuses. But Thomas said this case wasn't properly in U.S. courts.

“Nearly all the conduct that they say aided and abetted forced labor — providing training, fertilizer, tools, and cash to overseas farms — occurred in Ivory Coast. ... But allegations of general corporate activity — like decisionmaking — cannot alone establish domestic application of the ATS,” he wrote.

Attorney Paul Hoffman, who argued the case for the Malian citizens at the high court, said in a statement that he was “disappointed that the Court has delayed our clients' long quest for justice.” But he said it was not the end of the case. He said intends to ask a lower court to be allowed to amend the group’s lawsuit and allege that Cargill and Nestle “controlled the system of forced labor from the United States.”

The high court in recent years has limited the use of the Alien Tort Statute. In 2018, the court ruled that foreign businesses cannot be sued under the law. In that case, the court rejected an attempt by Israeli victims of attacks in the West Bank and Gaza to use U.S. courts to sue Jordan-based Arab Bank, which they said helped finance the attacks.

The case is Nestle USA v. Doe I, 19-416, and Cargill Inc. v. Doe I, 19-453.

Should you invest $1,000 in right now?

Before you consider , you'll want to hear this.

MarketBeat keeps track of Wall Street's top-rated and best performing research analysts and the stocks they recommend to their clients on a daily basis. MarketBeat has identified the five stocks that top analysts are quietly whispering to their clients to buy now before the broader market catches on... and wasn't on the list.

While currently has a "" rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys.

View The 5 Stocks Here

 


MarketBeat - Stock Market News and Research Tools logo

MarketBeat empowers individual investors to make better trading decisions by providing real-time financial data and objective market analysis. Whether you’re looking for analyst ratings, corporate buybacks, dividends, earnings, economic reports, financials, insider trades, IPOs, SEC filings or stock splits, MarketBeat has the objective information you need to analyze any stock. Learn more about MarketBeat.

MarketBeat is accredited by the Better Business Bureau

© American Consumer News, LLC dba MarketBeat® 2010-2021. All rights reserved.
326 E 8th St #105, Sioux Falls, SD 57103 | U.S. Based Support Team at [email protected] | (844) 978-6257
MarketBeat does not provide personalized financial advice and does not issue recommendations or offers to buy stock or sell any security.

Our Accessibility Statement | Terms of Service | Do Not Sell My Information

© 2021 Market data provided is at least 10-minutes delayed and hosted by Barchart Solutions. Information is provided 'as-is' and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice, and is delayed. To see all exchange delays and terms of use please see disclaimer. Fundamental company data provided by Zacks Investment Research.