Sector News

US Supreme Court throws out slavery case against Nestlé and Cargill

June 27, 2021
Food & Drink

The US Supreme Court has reversed a court ruling that saw former child labourers sue Nestlé and Cargill for knowingly helping to perpetuate slavery at Ivory Coast farms in order to keep cocoa prices low.

The court dismissed the lawsuit on 17 June because the “respondents’ injuries occurred overseas and the only domestic conduct alleged by respondents was general corporate activity,” a court document stated.

The accusation could not be brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) – which allows non-US citizens to file lawsuits in American courts – because the plaintiffs did not show that any of the relevant conduct took place within the US.

According to the official court filing, “the District Court dismissed this suit after we held that the ATS does not apply extraterritorially,” concluding that the respondents improperly sought extraterritorial application of the ATS.

In February earlier this year, Nestlé and Cargill were accused – alongside Mars, Mondelēz, Barry Callebaut, Olam and Hershey – of actively purchasing cocoa from Ivory Coast farms, while turning a blind eye to their use of slave labour.

“Respondents argue that petitioners “knew or should have known” that the farms were exploiting enslaved children yet continued to provide those farms with resources,” stated the filing.

The filing said the US court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had erred in allowing the suit to proceed on the basis that defendant corporations allegedly made “major operational decisions” in the US.

Meanwhile, the court bypassed a broader ruling on whether the ATS could be used to hold US companies liable for human rights violations abroad.

As cited by Reuters, Paul Hoffman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the ruling “has delayed our clients’ long quest for justice”, but said he intends to refile the lawsuit with more detailed allegations on conduct that he claims took place in the US.

By Emma Upshall


comments closed

Related News

January 22, 2023

Danone unveils plan to cut methane emissions

Food & Drink

The company expects to eliminate 1.2 billion tons carbon dioxide equivalent of methane emissions by the end of the decade. The company says that it already reduced its methane emissions by around 14% between 2018 and 2020.

January 22, 2023

US researchers land US$2.4M to turn food waste into “affordable” bioplastics

Food & Drink

The “first-of-its-kind” pilot project will develop and demonstrate an affordable modular bioprocessing system to produce biodegradable bioplastics from food waste diverted from landfills. The three-year grant will test the scalability and feasibility of the conversion on a national and global scale.

January 22, 2023

Arkeon partners with ICL to transform CO2 into proteins

Food & Drink

Arkeon is allying with specialty mineral giant ICL to support the scaling of its fermentation bioprocess that converts CO2 into the 20 proteinogenic essential amino acids needed in human nutrition. The process, hailed as carbon negative, is based on the use of archaea, a group of microorganisms that naturally feeds off the greenhouse gas.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach