Coca-Cola lawsuit (re Colombia)

Para la versi√≥n en espa√Īol de este perfil de las demandas judiciales,¬†haga clic ac√°.

The United Steelworkers Union and the International Labor Rights Fund sued the Coca-Cola Company and two of its Latin American bottlers ‚Äď Bebidas y Alimentos and Panamerican Beverages, Inc. (Panamco) ‚Äď in July 2001 in US federal court.¬† The lawsuit was brought by the Colombian trade union Sinaltrainal and five individuals and survivors who allege that the companies hired, contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that murdered and tortured the leaders of Sinaltrainal (which represents workers at the bottlers‚Äô facilities).¬† The defendant companies argued that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate complicity between the companies and the paramilitary security forces.

In 2003, the court dismissed the case against Coca-Cola, but it allowed the case to proceed against the two bottlers.  The following year the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint seeking to include Coca-Cola in the lawsuit due to its part ownership of Panamco through a 2003 acquisition.  In September of 2006, the court dismissed the claims against the two Coca-Cola bottlers and rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to bring Coca-Cola back into the lawsuit.  The court held that the plaintiffs’ claims did not suffice to allege war crimes under international law, because the plaintiffs did not claim that the abuses occurred in the course of hostilities.  It also held that plaintiffs’ claims did not suffice to allege violations of other international human rights because the plaintiffs did not claim a sufficiently close relationship between the Colombian Government and the companies’ alleged involvement in the abuses.  In August 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit.

- "11th Circuit Cites 'Iqbal' in Affirming Dismissal of Alien Tort Claims Against Coca-Cola and Bottlers", Alison Frankel, American Lawyer, 13 Aug 2009
- ‚Äú11th Circuit Asked to Clarify Corporate Liability‚ÄĚ,¬†Julie Kay,¬†Daily Business Review,¬†30 Oct 2006
- ‚ÄúHit squad lawsuit against Coke bottlers dismissed‚ÄĚ, Duane Stanford, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4 Oct 2006
- ‚Äú'Killer Coke' or Innocent Abroad?‚ÄĚ, BusinessWeek, 23 Jan 2006
- ‚ÄúCoke's Colombian Controversy‚ÄĚ, Scott Leith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 Apr 2005
- ‚ÄúCoke Bottler Faces Death Suit‚ÄĚ, Stefan Armbruster, BBC News, 02 Apr 2003¬†

Coca-Cola Company:
- Coca-Cola Company Statement: Miami Court Dismisses Colombia Lawsuit, 3 Oct 2006
- The Facts: The Coca-Cola Company and Colombia, 25 Jan 2006
- [ES] Colombia: Datos Importantes
- International Rights Advocates [plaintiffs' co-counsel]: SINALTRAINAL et al, v. The Coca-Cola Company, et al. - Case Summary

- [PDF] Sinaltrainal, et al. v. Coca Cola Company, et al., US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 11 Aug 2009 [order affirming lower court's dismissal of lawsuit]
- [PDF] In re Sinaltrainal Litigation, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 29 Sep 2006 [order dismissing the lawsuit]
- Sinaltrainal v. The Coca-Cola Company, 20 Jul 2001 [complaint in US District Court, Southern District of Florida]

Country: Colombia

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Lawsuit
18 February 2014

Coca-Cola lawsuit (re Colombia)

Author: François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights [Harvard School of Public Health]

The United Steelworkers Union and the International Labor Rights Fund sued the Coca-Cola Company and two of its Latin American bottlers ‚Äď Bebidas y Alimentos and Panamerican Beverages, Inc. (Panamco) ‚Äď in July 2001 in US federal court.¬† The lawsuit was brought by the Colombian trade union Sinaltrainal and five individuals and survivors who allege that the companies hired, contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that murdered and tortured the leaders of Sinaltrainal (which represents workers at the bottlers‚Äô facilities).¬† The defendant companies argued that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate complicity between the companies and the paramilitary security forces.¬† In 2003, the court dismissed the case against Coca-Cola, but it allowed the case to proceed against the two bottlers.¬† The following year the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint seeking to include Coca-Cola in the lawsuit due to its part ownership of Panamco through a 2003 acquisition.¬† In September of 2006, the court dismissed the claims against the two Coca-Cola bottlers and rejected the plaintiffs‚Äô attempt to bring Coca-Cola back into the lawsuit.¬† The court held that the plaintiffs‚Äô claims did not suffice to allege war crimes under international law, because the plaintiffs did not claim that the abuses occurred in the course of hostilities.¬† It also held that plaintiffs‚Äô claims did not suffice to allege violations of other international human rights because the plaintiffs did not claim a sufficiently close relationship between the Colombian Government and the companies‚Äô alleged involvement in the abuses.¬† In August 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit.

 

- "11th Circuit Cites 'Iqbal' in Affirming Dismissal of Alien Tort Claims Against Coca-Cola and Bottlers", Alison Frankel, American Lawyer, 13 Aug 2009

- ‚Äú11th Circuit Asked to Clarify Corporate Liability‚ÄĚ,¬†Julie Kay,¬†Daily Business Review,¬†30 Oct 2006
- ‚ÄúHit squad lawsuit against Coke bottlers dismissed‚ÄĚ, Duane Stanford, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4 Oct 2006
- ‚Äú'Killer Coke' or Innocent Abroad?‚ÄĚ, BusinessWeek, 23 Jan 2006
- ‚ÄúCoke's Colombian Controversy‚ÄĚ, Scott Leith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 Apr 2005
- ‚ÄúCoke Bottler Faces Death Suit‚ÄĚ, Stefan Armbruster, BBC News, 02 Apr 2003¬†

- Coca-Cola Company: Coca-Cola Company Statement: Miami Court Dismisses Colombia Lawsuit, 3 Oct 2006
- Coca-Cola Company: The Facts: The Coca-Cola Company and Colombia, 25 Jan 2006
- [ES] Coca-Cola Company: Colombia: Datos Importantes
- International Rights Advocates [plaintiffs' co-counsel]: SINALTRAINAL et al, v. The Coca-Cola Company, et al. - Case Summary

- [PDF] Sinaltrainal, et al. v. Coca Cola Company, et al., US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 11 Aug 2009 [order affirming lower court's dismissal of lawsuit]
- [PDF] In re Sinaltrainal Litigation, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 29 Sep 2006 [order dismissing the lawsuit]
- Sinaltrainal v. The Coca-Cola Company, 20 Jul 2001 [complaint in US District Court, Southern District of Florida]
 



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7 June 2013

Can post-conflict Colombia be a business and human rights leader?

Author: Annie Kelly, Guardian (UK)

...the United Fruit Company slaughter stands as a monument in the turbulent history of human rights and business in Colombia. Now...could a new era be dawning?..."...the country's reputation as a place where business was interlaced with conflict, security and environmental or social justice issues is beginning to shift. As a place where business and human rights intersect, Colombia is now becoming something of a global leader." [says John Morrison of Institute of Human Rights and Business]...Colombian businesses and a new wave of CEOs understand...that social impact is now more important than any other investment they will make ‚Äď perhaps the product of coming through decades of civil conflict...The country has proved serious about trying to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business...[and] the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights...According to some statistics, more than 80% of human rights violations in the past 10 years have been carried out in mining and energy regions in Colombia...In 2006...the Colombian Guidelines on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Gu√≠as Colombia) was launched by a group of businesses, civil society groups and the...government....Despite looking good on paper, Colombia still has much to prove in its quest to remodel itself as a global leader in human rights and business...Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist...Lawsuits have been filed against US companies including Coca Cola, Dole, and Drummond, for allegedly using paramilitaries to kill trade unionists. [also refers to Cerrej√≥n (joint venture Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata)]

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2 October 2012

[PDF] Investor Statement for Human Rights and in Support of the U.S. Alien Tort Statute

Author: Boston Common Asset Management & 30 other socially responsible investors & investment managers

The U.S. Alien Tort Statute (ATS)…has become an essential statute in protecting human rights against abuses, committed both by individuals and corporations…This law is currently being contested in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell)…The U.S. Supreme Court will be considering the ramifications of allowing foreign incidents to be brought to trial in the U.S. courts. Shell and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce…have returned to a long discredited argument: requiring corporate accountability decreases investment. There is no empirical evidence that in the years since the ATS was first used to address corporations, it has decreased investments in the U.S. or abroad…We are investors and investment managers representing $548 billion in assets under management and we support international legal frameworks, including the U.S. Alien Tort Statute (ATS), to protect human rights.

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13 March 2012

Another Supreme Court boost for corporate unaccountability?

Author: Phil Mattera, Facing South

Global corporations often think they are above the law, but for more than a decade some of the most egregious human rights and environmental violators have had to answer for their overseas actions in U.S. courtrooms. It now appears that the conservatives on the Supreme Court want to put an end to this key tool of corporate accountability. The controversy surrounds a once-obscure 1789 law known as the Alien Tort Statute or the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). It allows foreign citizens to bring civil actions in U.S. courts involving violations of international law or a treaty signed by the United States. The long dormant law was revived in the 1980s by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) as a vehicle for pursuing individual human rights violators and later came to be used against corporations as well. [refers to Chevron, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto, Shell, Unocal (part of Chevron)]

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Author: PNUD [Colombia]

‚Ķ[El] Informe se propone: describir las caracter√≠sticas‚Ķ[y la] magnitud‚Ķsobre los responsables y los m√≥viles de dicha violencia‚Ķ[Este] se ha estructurado en cinco partes, conclusi√≥n y ep√≠logo‚Ķ[3. An√°lisis de] las tres organizaciones con mayor n√ļmero de casos‚Ķla Federaci√≥n Colombiana de Educadores‚Ķla Uni√≥n Sindical Obrera‚Ķy el Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Agr√≠cola‚Ķ[Se refiere a: Colpuertos, Ecopetrol, Occidental Petroleum, Ocensa, Chiquita Brands, Banaldex, Augura,Drummond, Industrial de Servicios y Alimentaci√≥n, Indupalma, Nestl√©, Coca-Cola, Comestibles La Rosa, Cicolac, Fruco, Purina, Nutrinal, Diary Partners America Manufacturing, Promociones Agropecuarias Monterrey, Las Brisas, Palmas Bucarelia, Palmeras de la Costa, Palmas Oleaginosas Hipinto, Hipilandia, Palmeras del Cesar, Cementos El Cairo, Cementos Nare [ahora M√°rmoles y Cementos del Nare], Grupo Argos y Asociaci√≥n Nacional de Industriales]

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22 December 2010

Canadian Multinationals and Alien Torts

Author: George Waggott, Lang Michener LLP

It was long argued by corporations and foreign governments that the application of the ATCA…gave jurisdiction to the American courts over non-American companies in foreign countries…[T]he broad interpretation of the ATCA was narrowed in the 2009 case of The Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy Inc…[The] company which was accused of aiding and abetting the Sudanese government in the forced movement and genocide of civilians residing near oil facilities. [T]he Court of Appeals…imposed a higher pleading standard…a multinational… corporation… could not be liable without actual intent to commit...The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court…, but the Supreme Court declined to address the issue…For now, the Talisman ruling has removed what had been an effective weapon for human rights groups to force changes in the behaviour of multinational corporations. [also refers to Unocal (part of Chevron), Shell, Coca-Cola, Dow, Rio Tinto]

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5 November 2010

Colombia's ex-leader Alvaro Uribe subpoenaed in U.S. federal court

Author: Jim Wyss, Miami Herald [US]

Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has been subpoenaed to provide a deposition in a lawsuit against a U.S. coal company that allegedly supported right-wing death squads who killed at least 116 people in that nation. Uribe is not directly accused of wrong-doing but may shed light on key issues in the case that is being tried in U.S. federal court, said Terry Collingsworth, the plaintiffs' lawyer. The suit alleges that...Drummond worked with the Colombian Army and the United Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC paramilitary group, from 1999-2005 to battle left-wing guerrillas that were threatening its installations there. Collingsworth represents about 500 plaintiffs who say their family members were killed by the AUC during those operations...Drummond had no comment. [also refers to Chiquita, Coca-Cola]

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8 October 2010

Shortening the Long Arm of the Law [USA]

Author: [opinion] John B. Bellinger III, former US State Dept. legal advisor, New York Times

For more than a decade, dozens of multinational corporations have been sued in federal courts in the United States for alleged human rights violations under the...Alien Tort Statute. Now these suits may be over. In August...[the New York-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals] ruled that corporations may not be held liable for violations of international law...If the Supreme Court upholds the decision, it will remove an effective weapon for human rights groups to force changes in the behavior of multinational corporations...[and] the impact of their activities on local populations and the environment...Even...[without] the threat of lawsuits under the Alien Tort Statute, [corporations] should ensure that their international operations...comport with accepted human rights principles. [refers to Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Rio Tinto, Coca Cola, Pfizer, Caterpillar, Yahoo]

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19 July 2010

On the Frontier of Alien Tort Claims

Author: Lee G. Dunst, New York Law Journal

Since the 1980s, civil plaintiffs have attempted to use the Alien Tort Claims Act to hold private corporations responsible in U.S. courts for alleged human rights violations committed abroad…[T]he Court [in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain] failed to define an "international law norm," and, as a result, many lower courts have allowed a wide latitude for foreign plaintiffs to continue filing their human rights claims under numerous theories…This "Wild West" environment of litigation under the act could be transformed, however, if the U.S. Supreme Court were to step in and grant a certiorari petition. To date, this has not happened...[Also refers to lawsuits against Bayoil, Coca Cola, Drummond, El Paso, NuCoastal, Pfizer, Rio Tinto, Shell, Talisman]

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Author: Comisión Internacional de Juristas

En este informe se describen los diferentes puntos de acceso a la justicia colombiana en casos de abusos a los derechos humanos por parte de las empresas y se analizan los obst√°culos m√°s importantes para hacer efectivo dicho acceso...La estructura del informe es la siguiente: primero, se describen todas las rutas de acceso a la justicia previstas el ordenamiento jur√≠dico colombiano para hacer frente a los abusos cometidos por empresas. Segundo, se describen los obst√°culos normativos, log√≠sticos, pol√≠ticos y sociales con los que se pueden encontrar quienes pretenden acceder a la administraci√≥n de justicia en los casos de abusos mencionados. Por √ļltimo, se exponen algunas conclusiones y recomendaciones para eliminar y superar los obst√°culos planteados. [se refiere a Bavaria (parte de SABMiller), Chiquita, Coca Cola, Del Monte, Dole, Drummond, Panamco (parte de Coca-Cola FEMSA), Postob√≥n y Embotelladora de Santander]

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