Finding no U.S. jurisdiction, the Eleventh Circuit has dismissed multidistrict litigation against Chiquita alleging the company was liable for aiding and abetting torture and war crimes by paying a paramilitary group for security. Cardona v. Chiquita Brands Int’l, No. 12-14898 (11th Cir., order entered July 24, 2014). Relatives of alleged victims of the paramilitary group filed actions against Chiquita in 2010 and 2011. Additional information on the litigation appears in Issues 342, 345 and 387 of this Update.
A district court denied Chiquita’s motion to dismiss but the Eleventh Circuit has reversed this decision, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013). As in Kiobel, “[t]here is no allegation that any torture occurred on U.S. territory, or that any other act constituting a tort in terms of the [Alien Tort Statute (ATS)] touched or concerned the territory of the United States with any force.” As a result, the court had no jurisdiction to rule on the case, and thus erred by not granting Chiquita’s motion to dismiss.
In a dissent, one judge argued that “it is a fundamental principle of international law that every State has the sovereign authority to regulate the conduct of its own citizens, regardless of whether that conduct occurs inside or outside of the State’s territory.” Because the case concerns an American national—Chiquita—the court has jurisdiction over its actions, albeit to a limited extent, when the national aids and abets overseas torts from within the United States, she argued.