[JURIST] A class of plaintiffs suing several dozen US companies which did business in South Africa during apartheid [JURIST news archive] will ask to narrow their claims Tuesday in a status conference to be held in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). The plaintiffs are South Africans seeking to hold the businesses liable under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) [text] based on alleged complicity in perpetuating the oppression of the black majority in that country. In 2003, the South African government issued a statement [PDF text] of its position on substantially similar litigation then in US courts, calling it "inconsistent with South Africa's approach to achieving its long term goals." Global Research has more.
The case returns to the SDNY after the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] affirmed [PDF text] a Second Circuit judgment [PDF, text] in May on the rare grounds that it lacked a quorum [JURIST report] due to four recusals. The Second Circuit's decision allowed the ATCA action to go forward to trial [JURIST report], but had dismissed additional claims filed under the Torture Victims Protection Act [text]. The Supreme Court's recusals were statutorily required [text] because several justices had financial conflicts, but raised fairness concerns and brought about discussion as to possible effects on future cases.