In a move that will serve as a warning to corporations that aid governments in flagrant abuses of human rights, a federal judge in Manhattan has allowed a lawsuit to go forward against IBM, General Motors, Ford and other corporations over their roles in South Africa’s three-decade-long apartheid policy.
In an order (PDF) filed last week, US District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin denied the companies’ motion to consider de-certifying the lawsuit as a class action.
Courthouse News reports:
The automakers are accused of providing armored military vehicles used to suppress marches and worker protests, and of assisting security forces tasked with identifying and torturing anti-apartheid leaders.
The judge also allowed claims against IBM to proceed, for providing the technology that allowed the South African government to carry out “geographic segregation and denationalization,” according to the plaintiffs.
Among the other defendants in the case is Daimler AG, the manufacturer of Mercedes cars and former owner of Chrysler. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs and “all black South African citizens” for the suffering they endured under the 1960 to 1994 apartheid regime.
The companies being sued had asked Judge Scheindlin to consider de-certifying the lawsuit’s class-action status, which would have effectively ended the legal battle. But the judge rejected that motion, and the lawsuit is expected to begin hearings on January 11.
Judge Scheindlin last April struck down another motion from the companies, arguing that corporations are exempt from liability under the Alien Tort Claims Act, but that appeal was struck down as well.
In that ruling, Judge Scheindlin said the large US-based corporations should be tried over claims they “aided and abetted torture, extrajudicial killing and apartheid.”
While the defending companies have been mostly quiet about the lawsuit, a GM spokesman said last spring that the company “adamantly opposed apartheid.”
Michael Hausfeld, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit is particularly significant because “it sets a new standard with regard to obligations concerning fundamental human rights abuses on a global level.”
Last fall, the South African government reversed its position and decided to support the lawsuit. The country’s largest labor union joined the class-action as well, arguing that, because apartheid was meant to provide white Africans with a cheap labor pool, “our members were thus among the worst affected.”
Trump could owe hundreds of millions to Russia: Top Mueller attorney
The name Andrew Weissmann might ring a bell.
He's a former top Mueller attorney who worked with the Special Counsel on the Russia report.
Before that he served as General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and later became the chief of the criminal fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Decades ago Weissmann served for over ten years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, prosecuting Mafia crime families. After that he was put in charge of a special task force investigating the Enron scandal.
‘Trump is a phony’: Veteran journalist tears into president’s decades-long scam
Journalist David Corn has been tweeting out a request for President Donald Trump's tax returns almost every day since the 2016 election, and his wish finally came true -- kind of.
The Mother Jones reporter said the New York Times report revealed Trump was no business genius, but had conned the U.S. government for years.
"The tax returns were always an appropriate focus for attention," Corn wrote. "Trump’s steadfast refusal to release them was an early sign that Trump believed rules and norms do not apply to him."
Democrats have a simple strategy to make the Supreme Court vacancy painful for the GOP
Senate Republicans appear to have the political resolve to force through President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, ultra-conservative circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett, in the days right before the election.
But that does not mean Democrats can't make them pay a heavy price for it, wrote Abigail Tracy for Vanity Fair.
"Democrats are focused on winning the messaging fight," wrote Tracy. "Polling from CNN suggests they have a head start, with nearly six in 10 Americans indicating that they think the winner of November’s election should fill the open Supreme Court seat. In the days since Ginsburg passed, Democrats have zeroed in on a Supreme Court case over the Affordable Care Act, slated for mid-November, to make their argument."