U.S. Supreme Court Holds Claims Against U.S. Corporations for Aiding and Abetting Child Slavery Impermissibly Extraterritorial, Declines to Resolve Domestic Corporate Liability
In Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe, et al., former child slaves who were trafficked into Côte d'Ivoire to work on cocoa farms filed suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) against U.S.-based companies that purchase cocoa from and provide other support to the farms, alleging that the companies aided and abetted child slavery. By an 8–1 vote, the Supreme Court held that the case involved an impermissible extraterritorial application of the ATS under the Court's precedent in Kiobel. The Court declined to resolve whether domestic corporations may be held liable under the ATS, although five justices across several opinions expressed the view that such corporations are not immune from ATS suits. The question of whether the Court should ever create new causes of action under the ATS prompted significant debate, with three justices suggesting that they would overrule Sosa v. Álvarez-Machain and a fourth indicating that there are strong arguments to reject judicial creation of any new ATS causes of action.