Chevron defeats ATA and ATS claims brought by 298 plaintiffs relating to terrorist attacks in Israel
Client(s) Chevron Corporation
Chevron Corporation, represented by Jones Day, defeated claims under the Anti-Terrorism Act ("ATA") and Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") brought by 298 plaintiffs who sought to hold Chevron responsible for injuries sustained in terrorist attacks in Israel between November 2000 and April 2002. The case presented significant and unsettled legal issues concerning the standard for proximate causation under the ATA, as well as the ability of foreign plaintiffs to sue U.S. corporations for foreign acts under the ATS. The plaintiffs alleged that Chevron purchased Iraqi oil through the United Nations' Iraq Oil-for-Food Program, that certain funds paid by Chevron were transmitted outside the approved U.N. process, and that Saddam Hussein used these funds for "martyr payments" which encouraged the terrorist attacks at issue. The plaintiffs thus alleged that Chevron committed or aided acts of international terrorism.
The district court dismissed the ATA direct-liability claim for lack of proximate cause and dismissed the aiding-and-abetting claim because the plaintiffs did not plausibly allege that Chevron "knowingly supported or encouraged terrorist attacks in Israel." The court explained that "there [was] no allegation that money from Chevron ever reached the terrorists in Israel" or any allegation that Chevron's payments "were solicited or designated in any way to bankroll the terrorist activities" that injured the plaintiffs.
The court also dismissed the ATS claims because the plaintiffs failed to adequately plead the required mens rea. The plaintiffs could not show that Chevron payments for Iraqi oil were used to support terrorism, much less that Chevron "knew" that to be the case.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed.
Brill v. Chevron Corp., No. 18-16862 (9th Cir.); No. 3-15-cv-04916 (N.D. Cal.)