(Reuters) – The US Supreme Court on Thursday brought a lawsuit accusing Cargill Inc. and a subsidiary of Nestle SA of knowingly helping to maintain slavery at cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire, but exempting a broader decision on the admissibility of suits accusing US companies of human rights abuses abroad.
The 8-1 judgment written by Justice Clarence Thomas reversed a decision in the lower court that had allowed the trial, brought on behalf of former child slaves from Mali who worked on the farms, filed against the companies in 2005 to continue.
The court ruled that the claim could not be made under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows non-US citizens to claim damages in US courts in certain cases. The business community has long tried to limit companies' liability under this law.
The lawsuits were filed against the US subsidiary of Swiss Nestle, the world's largest food producer, and commodity trader Cargill, one of the largest privately owned US companies.