Drummond lawsuit (re Colombia)

Para la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales, haga clic acá.

In 2002, the families of three deceased Colombian labour leaders and the union they belonged to, Sintramienergética, filed suit against Drummond Company, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Drummond Ltd. in US federal court.  The plaintiffs alleged that Drummond hired Colombian paramilitaries to kill and torture the three labour leadersin 2001.  Sintramienergética represents workers at Drummond’s coal mining operations in Colombia.  The case was brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), US Torture Victim Protection Act and Alabama state law.  Drummond sought dismissal of the case, which the court granted as to the state law claims and one of the ATCA claims in 2003.  The court declined to dismiss the ATCA claims for extrajudicial killing and for denial of rights to associate and organise.  In March 2007, the court ruled that the case against Drummond Ltd. (the subsidiary) would go to trial, but dismissed the case against Drummond Company (the parent company).  In June of 2007, the district court judge dismissed the wrongful death claims, but the judge allowed the plaintiffs’ war crimes allegations under ATCA (summary execution) to stand.  The trial was held in July 2007.  The jury acquitted Drummond finding that the company was not liable for the deaths of the three murdered labour leaders.  On 11 December 2007, the plaintiffs filed their opening brief to appeal the lower court's verdict with the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

In March 2009, the children of three slain Colombian union leaders filed a new lawsuit in US federal court against Drummond alleging the company's complicity in the killings.  Another lawsuit was filed in US federal court against Drummond in May 2009 alleging that the company had made payments to the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym AUC) to kill labour leaders.  Drummond has denied these allegations.  While a lower court dismissed the lawsuit brought by the union leaders' children, on 3 February 2011 the federal court of appeals reversed this dismissal and remanded the case to the lower court.  The court of appeals found that the children did have standing to pursue their claims against Drummond and remanded their previously dismissed claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act for further proceedings at the trial court level.  On 25 July 2013 the district court judge dismissed the case against Drummond finding that the court no longer had jurisdiction to hear the case, citing the US Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Shell. On 23 September 2014, a US federal appeals court affirmed a lower court’s order from 2012 to dismiss the lawsuit against Drummond on the basis that the “allegations and evidence…do not show conduct focused in the United States.”

In February 2013 a former contractor for Drummond was sentenced by a Colombian court to 38 years in prison for organizing the killing of two labour leaders in 2001.  The judge ordered prosecutors to investigate Drummond’s president and several former employees to determine whether they had a role in the killings.

- "Drummond Cleared on Death Squad Murders", Jack Bouboushian, Courthosue News, 26 Mar 2015
- "War crimes lawsuit against Drummond dismissed", Ryan Poe, Birmingham Business Journal, 31 Jul 2013
- "Colombian judge convicts ex-contractor in Drummond union leader killing", Associated Press, 6 Feb 2013
- "Mining Company Faces Suit Over Union Killings", Kevin Duvall, 4 Feb 2011
- "Suit claims Ala. coal firm funded Colombian terror", Bob Johnson, AP, 28 May 2009
- "Children Sue Ala. Company In Colombian Mine Deaths", Jay Reeves, AP, 20 Mar 2009
- "Alabama Company Is Exonerated in Murders at Colombian Mine", Kyle Whitmore, New York Times, 27 Jul 2007
- “Drummond case shows danger facing Colombian unions”, Hugh Bronstein, Reuters, 16 Nov 2006
- “US firm sued after mine union leaders' deaths”, Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK], 25 Mar 2002

Drummond Ltd.:
- [PDF] Drummond does not negotiate with illegal groups; the Company emphatically rejects all charges against the company and its executives, 21 Mar 2007 [press release]
- Drummond's Colombian Operations

International Rights Advocates [plaintiffs’ co-counsel]:
- Drummond [includes links to certain news items about the case and certain legal documents]

- [PDF] US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Jane Doe, et al. v. Drummond Company, 25 Mar 2015
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: [PDF] Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Memorandum Opinion Granting Summary Judgment, 25 Jul 2013
- [PDF] Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, 17 Sep 2012
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Locarno Baloco, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., 3 Feb 2011
- [PDF] Romero, et al. v. Drummond, et al. - Appellants' Opening Brief, 11 Dec 2007
- [PDF] Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company - Complaint, 14 Mar 2002

- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Juan Aquas Romero v. Drummond Company, 14 Mar 2007 [order unsealing certain case documents]
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: [PDF] Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company, 14 Apr 2003 [order dismissing certain claims, declining to dismiss claims for extrajudicial killings and denial of rights to associate & organise]

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Article
28 May 2015

Colombia: Former Drummond executive charged with 2001 murder of 2 trade unionists

Author: Emma Rosser, Colombia Reports

"Drummond executive arrested over paramilitary murder charges", 26 May 2015

A Colombian executive of US-based coal company Drummond...Alfredo Araujo, the former Head of Industrial Relations for the Alabama-based coal miners, has been charged with the murder of two trade union activists lowered from a bus and shot in 2001...Former paramilitary...claimed he took part in the murders as part of the Northern Block of the AUC [United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia] and that they were ordered in response to a planned strike that would generate a loss for the multinational company...In 2009, a civil lawsuit was filed in US courts against the company. However, the US Court of Appeals filed the case on March 25th claiming a lack of adequate information to bring the international claim to US courts. This case is now to be decided by Colombia’s Courts of Justice...Araujo, Blanco’s inside contact at Drummond, has been provided two lawyers by the company and proceedings are expected to begin within a week...

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Article
17 April 2015

Drummond sues NGO & others in US court for accusing firm of collaborating with paramilitaries over human rights abuses in Colombia

Author: Alice Bradshaw-Smith, Colombia Reports (Colombia)

“Drummond hits back at those who accused company of paramilitary ties,” 11 Apr 2015

…Drummond has sued those who had accused the…business of collaborating with paramilitaries guilty of human rights violations in Colombia. A recently filed lawsuit contends that several lawyers, an advocacy group and a Dutch competitor worked together to extort money from Drummond through their allegations against the company. Drummond…was accused of financing paramilitary groups responsible for 2,600 homicides, massacres, forced displacement, and disappearances…as was detailed in an investigative report released by the Dutch NGO PAX last year…The court concluded in their published report that there was no proof that “the paramilitaries were receiving payments from Drummond,” and determined that “the evidence presented by the plaintiffs did not prove the guilt of the defendants.”…The multinational’s claims...allege that its adversaries have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a federal law generally used to combat the mafia….

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Article
26 March 2015

USA: Federal appeals court dismisses lawsuit against Drummond over alleged complicity in killings in Colombia

Author: Jack Bouboushian, Courthouse News Service (USA)

"Drummond Cleared on Death Squad Murders", 26 Mar 2015

Relatives of victims killed by Colombian paramilitary forces cannot sue Drummond Co. in U.S. courts for its alleged support of the murders and other war crimes, the 11th Circuit ruled. Drummond…allegedly conspired with right-wing paramilitary forces of Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) to murder and terrorize union workers at mines owned by its Colombian subsidiaries…The Colombian government criminalized membership in and support of paramilitary groups in 1991. However, private security groups known as "convivir" units still organized under AUC leadership, and claimed to provide security for companies from left-wing attacks. The 11th Circuit recently threw out a similar lawsuit…basing its decision on the Supreme Court's ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum…Similarly in this case, the 11th Circuit found that the alleged violations of international law all took place in Colombia, not in the U.S.

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Article
5 December 2014

Access to justice for victims of human rights abuses needs to be strengthened

Author: Sif Thorgeirsson, Manager, Corporate Legal Accountability Project, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

‘Closing the courtroom door: where can victims of human rights abuse by business find justice?’, 1 Dec 2014

…[M]any victims of business-related human rights abuse have no access to judicial remedy in their home country…The majority of cases of abuse we see at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre occur in weak governance zones, which often do not have an independent judiciary, and sometimes lack fully functioning courts…Of the 108 legal cases the Centre has profiled,…[54%] are related to extraterritorial claims…[but t]he effect [of Kiobel] has been a near-freeze on victims seeking justice through this…avenue. At the time of…Kiobel…, there were at least 19 corporate Alien Tort cases pending in US courts.  Since then, only one new…case has been filed…While the scope for remedy from US and English courts is narrowing…there have been three cases filed in Canadian courts addressing extraterritorial business-related human rights abuse...[and]…cases…have been filed in France, Switzerland and Germany…Concerted action is needed by governments and others to reverse the trend toward closing…avenues to justice…[Also refers to Occidental Petroleum, Cisco Systems, Drummond, Chiquita, Rio Tinto,  Daimler, ExxonMobil, Nestle, CACI, L-3 Titan, Nevsun, Hudbay Minerals and Tahoe Resources]

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Article
25 September 2014

Federal appeals court affirms dismissal of lawsuit claiming Drummond Co. role in Colombian murders

Author: Kent Faulk, al.com

An appeals court has affirmed a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit claiming Drummond Co. conspired with a paramilitary group to murder three union officials at the company's coal operation in Colombia…The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals…affirmed U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor's order dismissing the case in 2012…The appeals court also specifically addressed and dismissed the children's claims brought under the Alien Tort Statute. The appeals court stated the claims under that law could not be brought again because none of the conduct alleged against Drummond was focused within the United States.

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Article
23 September 2014

[PDF] Locarno, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc. - Opinion

Author: US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit

[Full text of the federal appeals court decision to affirm the lower court's dismissal of the case.]

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Lawsuit
18 February 2014

Drummond lawsuit (re Colombia)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Para la versión en español de este perfil de caso, haga clic acá.

In 2002, the families of three deceased Colombian labour leaders and the union they belonged to, Sintramienergética, filed suit against Drummond Company, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Drummond Ltd. in US federal court.  The plaintiffs alleged that Drummond hired Colombian paramilitaries to kill and torture the three labour leadersin 2001.  Sintramienergética represents workers at Drummond’s coal mining operations in Colombia.  The case was brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), US Torture Victim Protection Act and Alabama state law.  Drummond sought dismissal of the case, which the court granted as to the state law claims and one of the ATCA claims in 2003.  The court declined to dismiss the ATCA claims for extrajudicial killing and for denial of rights to associate and organise.  In March 2007, the court ruled that the case against Drummond Ltd. (the subsidiary) would go to trial, but dismissed the case against Drummond Company (the parent company).  In June of 2007, the district court judge dismissed the wrongful death claims, but the judge allowed the plaintiffs’ war crimes allegations under ATCA (summary execution) to stand.  The trial was held in July 2007.  The jury acquitted Drummond finding that the company was not liable for the deaths of the three murdered labour leaders.  On 11 December 2007, the plaintiffs filed their opening brief to appeal the lower court's verdict with the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

In March 2009, the children of three slain Colombian union leaders filed a new lawsuit in US federal court against Drummond alleging the company's complicity in the killings.  Another lawsuit was filed in US federal court against Drummond in May 2009 alleging that the company had made payments to the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym AUC) to kill labour leaders.  Drummond has denied these allegations.  While a lower court dismissed the lawsuit brought by the union leaders' children, on 3 February 2011 the federal court of appeals reversed this dismissal and remanded the case to the lower court.  The court of appeals found that the children did have standing to pursue their claims against Drummond and remanded their previously dismissed claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act for further proceedings at the trial court level.  On 25 July 2013 the district court judge dismissed the case against Drummond finding that the court no longer had jurisdiction to hear the case, citing the US Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Shell.

In February 2013 a former contractor for Drummond was sentenced by a Colombian court to 38 years in prison for organizing the killing of two labour leaders in 2001.  The judge ordered prosecutors to investigate Drummond’s president and several former employees to determine whether they had a role in the killings.

 

- "War crimes lawsuit against Drummond dismissed", Ryan Poe, Birmingham Business Journal, 31 Jul 2013
- "Colombian judge convicts ex-contractor in Drummond union leader killing", Associated Press, 6 Feb 2013
- "Mining Company Faces Suit Over Union Killings", Kevin Duvall, 4 Feb 2011
- "Suit claims Ala. coal firm funded Colombian terror", Bob Johnson, AP, 28 May 2009
- "Children Sue Ala. Company In Colombian Mine Deaths", Jay Reeves, AP, 20 Mar 2009

- "Alabama Company Is Exonerated in Murders at Colombian Mine", Kyle Whitmore, New York Times, 27 Jul 2007

- “Drummond case shows danger facing Colombian unions”, Hugh Bronstein, Reuters, 16 Nov 2006

- “US firm sued after mine union leaders' deaths”, Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK], 25 Mar 2002

 

- Drummond Ltd.: [PDF] Drummond does not negotiate with illegal groups; the Company emphatically rejects all charges against the company and its executives, 21 Mar 2007 [press release]

- Drummond Company: Drummond's Colombian Operations

- International Rights Advocates [plaintiffs’ co-counsel]: Drummond [includes links to certain news items about the case and certain legal documents]

 

- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: [PDF] Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Memorandum Opinion Granting Summary Judgment, 25 Jul 2013
- [PDF] Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, 17 Sep 2012
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Locarno Baloco, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., 3 Feb 2011
- [PDF] Romero, et al. v. Drummond, et al. - Appellants' Opening Brief, 11 Dec 2007
- [PDF] Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company - Complaint, 14 Mar 2002

 

- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Juan Aquas Romero v. Drummond Company, 14 Mar 2007 [order unsealing certain case documents]
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: [PDF] Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company, 14 Apr 2003 [order dismissing certain claims, declining to dismiss claims for extrajudicial killings and denial of rights to associate & organise]

Article
19 January 2014

Drummond Ltd Responds With Facts and Asks Why?

Author: Drummond Ltd.

…We would like to clarify some statements by the press, government and others surrounding this situation and present the facts as we see them…Drummond began feasibility studies for the mining and transportation of coal in Colombia in 1986…Drummond then applied for a port concession within the area of Cienaga…which was granted for a period of 30 years, expiring in 2023…[including] the environmental permit…Drummond filed for an environmental license modification….[in] 2009 and was denied…The environmental permit modification was finally granted…on March 21, 2013….A later delay revolves around a 53 day strike called by Sintramienergetica Union…[Intransigence] by Sintramienergetica and refusal by the Ministry of Labor caused a delay of approximately two months on the construction of the port…We have been falsely portrayed as a defiant company and demeaned in the press and by others. We have been accused of “cheating” (slanderous and mean word) on royalties by the Minister of Mines and the Controller. Not so…

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Article
+ Español - Hide

Author: Andrés Bermúdez Liévano, La Silla Vacía (Colombia)

Con la…multa contra Drummond por el vertimiento de carbón en la Bahía de Santa Marta y su incumplimiento del plazo para cargarlo directamente...el efecto más visible de esta crisis es que la empresa…podría estar perdiendo su licencia social…[cuando] se prepara para…las negociaciones para extender por otros 30 años el contrato de su mayor mina, Pribbenow – La Loma…¿Qué significa para Drummond esta crisis y cómo la está perjudicando su actitud…? ¿Qué significa para el país? ¿Qué le trae la Drummond a Colombia y qué Colombia a la Drummond? ¿Está potenciando esta crisis el sentimiento antiminero? ¿Cómo jugará el tema en las elecciones?...[Tras] la multa impuesta en diciembre…al menos una decena de altos funcionarios del Gobierno han salido a hablar contra Drummond con una dureza que no se había visto hasta el momento…Una de las…[cosas] que más ha recibido críticas ha sido su idea…de solicitar la cancelación de 4160 contratos de sus empleados…

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Article
9 January 2014

Colombia blocks Drummond coal loading after rule breach

Author: BBC

Colombia has ordered US-based coal producer Drummond to stop loading coal in Colombian ports until the company complies with new environmental rules. Under the regulations, coal exporters will no longer be allowed to use barges and cranes to load ships. The rules are aimed at preventing spillage and pollution of the seas. Three weeks ago, Drummond was fined $3.5m (£2.1m) for spilling hundreds of tons of coal when it tried to rescue a sinking barge in January 2013…Environment Minister Luz Helena Sarmiento said it was a "costly" but necessary decision to protect Colombia's environment. "If they [Drummond] don't do things properly, we'd prefer not to have this money, and they have to learn that Colombia must be respected," she said…The new rules will not affect the country's biggest coal producer Cerrejon, a joint venture between BHP Biliton, Anglo American and Xstrata, as it is already using conveyor belts to do its loading...

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