Nestlé, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland lawsuit (re Côte d'Ivoire)

child labour Côte d’Ivoire Credit - International Labour Rights ForumPour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

On 14 July 2005, three individuals from Mali and Global Exchange (a human rights organization) filed a class action lawsuit in California federal court against Nestlé, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.  The individuals alleged they had been trafficked from Mali as child slaves and forced to work harvesting and/or cultivating cocoa beans on farms in Côte d’Ivoire.  The plaintiffs allege that they were forced to work long hours without pay, kept in locked rooms when not working and suffered severe physical abuse by those guarding them.  The plaintiffs allege that the companies aided, abetted or failed to prevent the torture, forced labour and arbitrary detention that they had suffered as child slaves.  The lawsuit alleges violations of the Alien Tort Claims Act, Torture Victim Protection Act, US Constitution and California state law.  The plaintiffs further claimed that the companies’ economic benefit from the labour of children violates international labour conventions, the law of nations and customary international law. 

In August 2005, Nestlé filed a motion to force the disclosure of the names of the former child slave plaintiffs, which was opposed by the plaintiffs.  In addition, the defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the case.  On 27 July 2006, the court ordered further briefings to be filed on various issues related to aiding and abetting standards.  On 8 September 2010 the court dismissed the case finding that the case could not be brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act.  The court concluded that existing authorities did not demonstrate that corporate liability was sufficiently well established and universal to satisfy a claim under the Alien Tort Claims Act.  The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal.  In December 2013, a federal appeals court overturned the 2010 ruling and allowed the plaintiffs to refile the lawsuit.  In September 2014, the federal appeals court replaced its December 2013 opinion with an expanded one reversing and vacating the lower court's dismissal of the case. The new opinion sets forth expanded reasoning for allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to show the connection their claims have to the United States to address the US Supreme Court's holding in Kiobel v. Shell. The court found that the plaintiffs have standing to bring their Alien Tort case because of the universal prohibition against slavery.  In September 2015, the defendants petitioned the Supreme Court to throw out the federal appeals court’s ruling and want it to decide if companies are subject to liability under the Alien Tort Claims Act.  In January 2016 the Supreme Court declined to hear the companies' appeal.


- "US Supreme Ct. rejects Nestlé, ADM & Cargill's bid to dismiss Alien Tort case alleging complicity in forced child labour", Lawrence Hurley, Reuters, 11 Jan 2016
- "9th Circuit Digs Into Nestle Child Slavery Suit", Courthouse News Service (USA), 5 Sep 2014
Ivory Coast says its cocoa not tainted by slavery”, Reuters, 13 Feb 2006

-[FR] « Nestlé, Archer Daniels Midland et Cargill attaquées pour travail des enfants » GRESEA, 28 septembre 2005
- “U.S. companies sued in Calif. over child labor claims”, Reuters, 16 Jul 2005

- Nestlé S.A.: [PDF] The Cocoa Plan: Nestlé and sustainable cocoa
- Archer Daniels Midland: [PDF] ADM Supports Responsible Cocoa Farming, 7 Feb 2006
- Cargill: Responsible Cocoa Sourcing and Production
- International Rights Advocates (co-counsel for plaintiffs):Nestle, Archers Daniel Midland, and Cargill [summary of case, includes links to certain legal documents]
- Global Exchange: “Nestle Taken to Court for Trafficking, Torture, and Beatings of Child Laborers on West African Cocoa Farms,” 03 Feb 2006

Doe v. Nestlé et al., US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- [PDF] Order reversing lower court's dismissal, 4 Sep 2014
- [PDF] Brief of amicus curiae EarthRights International in support of Plaintiffs/Appellants, 1 Jul 2011
- [PDF] Defendants' answering brief, 30 Sep 2011
- [PDF] Plaintiffs' opening brief, 24 Jun 2011

Doe v. Nestlé et al., US District Court, Central District of California
- [PDF] Order granting defendants' motion to dismiss, 8 Sep 2010
- [PDF] First amended complaint, 22 Jul 2009
- [PDF] Declaration of Herman N. (Rusty) Johnson in Support of Plaintiffs’ Supplementary Brief [with information about company sourcing practices], 9 Aug 2006
- [PDF] Defendants’ Joint Opening Brief in Response to Court’s July 27, 2006 Order, 9 Aug 2006
- [PDF] Declaration in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, 2 Jan 2006
- [PDF] Individuals (John Doe I, II & III) and Global Exchange, v. Nestle, Archers Daniels Midland, Cargill, et al. , 14 Jul 2005 [complaint]

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Article
1 February 2016

Nestlé admits slavery in Thailand while fighting child labour lawsuit in Ivory Coast

Author: Annie Kelly, Guardian (UK)

It’s hard to think of an issue that you would less like your company to be associated with than modern slavery. Yet last November Nestlé…went public with the news it had found forced labour in its supply chains in Thailand…Nick Grono, the chief executive of NGO the Freedom Fund…believes Nestlé’s admission could be a considerable force in shifting the parameters of what can be expected of businesses when it comes to supply chain accountability…Nestlé is…facing legal action in the US. Last week the company…failed in its bid to get the US Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit seeking to hold them liable for the alleged use of child slaves in cocoa farming in the Ivory Coast. This puts the company in the unfortunate position of disclosing slavery in one part of its operations, while at the same time fighting through the courts to fend off accusations that it exists in another – more profitable – part of its business. [also refers to Patagonia, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill]

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Author: Martin Kouassi, Nathalie Barge, La Voix de l'Amérique

La Cour suprême américaine a rejeté une requête de Nestlé, le géant mondial de l’alimentation, et deux autres sociétés visant à annuler un procès sur leur responsabilité quant à l'utilisation d'enfants pour récolter le cacao en Côte-d'Ivoire...La plus haute juridiction américaine a maintenu une décision de décembre 2014 prise par une Cour d’appel à San Francisco, qui a refusé de rejeter une plainte contre Nestlé, Archer-Daniels-Midland et Cargill, déposée par d'anciennes victimes...Les plaignants, qui sont originaires du Mali, soutiennent que les entreprises ont aidé et encouragé les violations des droits humains à travers leur participation active dans l'achat de cacao de Côte-d'Ivoire. Tout en étant conscientes du problème de l'exploitation des enfants, les entreprises ont offert une aide financière et technique aux agriculteurs locaux dans le but de garantir la source la moins chère du cacao, ont affirmé les plaignants...Dans sa décision 2013 sur le cas Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, la Cour suprême a rejeté à l'unanimité un procès intenté par 12 personnes originaires du Nigeria qui accusaient Royal Dutch Shell de soutenir des actes de torture et des assassinats imputés à l’Etat nigérian...Dans le cas de Nestlé, la cour d'appel a déclaré que les plaignants pouvaient mettre à jour leur procès pour s’adapter à la décision de la Cour suprême, notamment en incluant des revendications plus spécifiques quant au lien de causalité entre les agissements présumés de ces sociétés et l’esclavage des enfants.

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Article
12 January 2016

Nestlé says in its website that no company sourcing cocoa from Ivory Coast can guarantee they have completely removed the risk of children working on small farms in their supply chain

Author: NEOnline/GK

Swiss giant, Nestle, will be sued over allegations that it used child slaves to harvest cocoa in the Ivory Coast in Africa…the US Supreme Court rejected the appeal by Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill to dismiss the lawsuit. The case first came into surface on 14 July 2005, when three individuals from Mali and Global Exchange filed a class action lawsuit in California federal court against the three companies.  According to Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, the individuals alleged they had been trafficked from Mali as child slaves and forced to work harvesting and/or cultivating cocoa beans on farms in the Ivory Coast…The plaintiffs allege that the companies aided and failed to prevent the torture, forced labor and arbitrary detention that they had suffered as child slaves. The plaintiffs further claimed that the companies’ economic benefit from the labor of children violates international labor conventions, the law of nations and customary international law...[I]n 2012, seven years after the shocking revelations, the Swiss giant decided to establish a monitoring and remediation system in farmer cooperatives to raise awareness about child labor and to identify children at risk…

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Article
11 January 2016

US Supreme Ct. rejects Nestlé, ADM & Cargill's bid to dismiss Alien Tort case alleging complicity in forced child labour

Author: Lawrence Hurley, Reuters

"U.S. top court rejects Nestle bid to throw out child slavery suit", 11 Jan 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Nestle SA…and two other companies to throw out a lawsuit seeking to hold them liable for the use of child slaves to harvest cocoa in Ivory Coast. The high court left in place a December 2014 ruling by the…9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Nestle, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co and Cargill Inc filed by former victims of child slavery. The plaintiffs…contend the companies aided and abetted human rights violations through their active involvement in purchasing cocoa from Ivory Coast. While aware of the child slavery problem, the companies offered financial and technical assistance to local farmers in a bid to guarantee the cheapest source of cocoa, the plaintiffs said.

 

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Article
4 January 2016

US Supreme Ct. should hear Nestlé, Cargill & ADM case over alleged child labour in Côte d'Ivoire to clarify unresolved Alien Tort issues, says lawyer

Author: John Bellinger, Arnold & Porter, on Lawfare blog (USA)

"Doe v Nestle: Will SCOTUS Grant Cert to Clarify Unresolved Issues in Kiobel?", 30 Dec 2015

Less than three years after the Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum, which held that the Alien Tort Statute is presumed not to apply to conduct on the sovereign territory of other countries, the Supreme Court is considering whether to grant certiorari in another ATS case to clarify issues left unresolved in Kiobel. The case before the Court is Doe v. Nestle, in which a divided Ninth Circuit panel allowed a decade-old ATS suit to proceed against three American companies (Nestle USA, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and Cargill) alleged to have aided and abetted acts of child enslavement by coca farmers in the Cote d'Ivoire. The defendant companies have filed for cert, arguing that the Ninth Circuit's decision conflicts not only with Kiobel but with post-Kiobel decisions of other circuit courts. The plaintiffs respond that it is premature for the Court to review the case and deny that there is a circuit split...[T]he Court is scheduled to decide on January 8 whether to take the case...Supreme Court review is warranted to resolve the circuit conflict over the meaning of Kiobel's "touch and concern" test, and the Nestle cert petition presents a suitable vehicle to clarify the meaning of "touch and concern" and other ATS issues left unresolved by Kiobel...

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Article
28 October 2015

Business groups argue that allowing US lawsuit against chocolate firms over alleged child slavery in Côte d’Ivoire to continue would damage US business

Author: Law360 (USA)

“Nestle Child Slave Suit Hurts US Business, Justices Told”, 26 Oct 2015 [subscription required]

…The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cocoa industry groups and others urged the Supreme Court to undo a Ninth Circuit ruling reviving a suit by former child slaves who claim Nestle USA Inc. and other companies perpetuated slavery on cocoa plantations, arguing that the ruling would discourage investment and corporate human rights initiatives overseas...[Also refers to Archer Daniels Midland]

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Article
2 October 2015

Nestlé petitions US Supreme Court to throw out case by former child slaves of Côte d'Ivoire cocoa plantations

Author: Jody Godoy, Law360 (USA)

“Nestle Asks Justices To Nix Foreign Child Slavery Suit”, 28 Sep 2015 [Subscription required]

Nestle and other food industry behemoths have asked the Supreme Court to toss the Ninth Circuit's ruling that three anonymous former child slaves on Mali cocoa plantations can sue the corporations under the Alien Tort Statute…The Ninth Circuit held last year that the three anonymous plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged Nestle USA Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Cargill Incorporated Co. had aided and abetted slavery through their pursuit of low-cost cocoa in the Ivory Coast.  In a petition for writ of certiorari filed on Sept. 18, the corporations said that standard would drastically expand application of the foreign tort law…The plaintiffs…alleged they were forced to work 14-hour days with little food and endured whippings and beatings, and that the defendants knew about the abhorrent conditions but continued to support the cocoa farmers in order to keep the commodity as inexpensive as possible. The district court dismissed the case…[I]n September 2014...the Ninth Circuit reversed that holding allowing the suit to go forward…Nestle and its co-petitioners argue there were major flaws in the Ninth Circuit's holding, [including] when the court held the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged aiding-and-abetting because they had claimed the corporations sought the cheapest cocoa possible while knowing child slavery could result…The three cocoa buyers also want the high court to decide whether corporations are subject to liability under the Alien Tort Statute...

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Article
12 June 2015

US appeals court divided over case against Nestlé alleging complicity in Côte d'Ivoire child labour

Author: Jack Bouboushian, Courthouse News Service (USA)

"Advance of Cocoa-Slavery Case Divides 9th Circuit", 11 June 2015

Eight Ninth Circuit judges accused their colleagues of "substitut[ing] sympathy for legal analysis," in a ruling permitting former child slaves to sue Nestle USA, and dissented from the full court's decision not to rehear the case.  Circuit Judge Carlos Bea wrote an 18-page dissent of the full court's decision not to rehear Doe v. Nestle en banc…The plaintiffs, named as John Does in a 2009 first amended complaint filed against Nestle USA and others in Los Angeles, claim that as children they were forced to work on Ivorian cocoa plantations…At issue is whether Nestle, a major cocoa purchaser, knew about and supported the conditions in the name of profit. The amended majority opinion, written by Judge Dorothy Nelson, ruled that the violation of universal norms may be a basis for an Alien Tort Statute claim against a corporation.

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Article
2 June 2015

Can a US Court hold Nestlé responsible for child slavery in Africa?

Author: Annie Wu, Epoch Times

A legal case involving major food companies Nestlé, ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), and Cargill...has now reached the highest court in the country. The three companies are preparing to petition the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would make the final ruling on the legal question. In 2005, three Malian nationals who were forced into working on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast filed a class-action lawsuit in a federal court in California. They claimed that the three corporations—through purchasing cocoa harvested by child laborers—”aided and abetted” slavery, child labor, and torture...Though Nestlé, ADM, and Cargill do not own any cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, they have exclusive buyer-seller relationships with Ivorian farms...In 2010, the California court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that corporations cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute...The Malians then brought their case to a federal appeals court, which reversed the dismissal...But Nestlé, ADM, and Cargill are not giving up the fight...Now, it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide whether they want to hear the case... [Also refers to Hershey, Royal Dutch Petroleum]

 

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Article
1 June 2015

Ivorian cocoa embargo likely if Nestlé, ADM and Cargill child slavery case succeeds, says judge

Author: Oliver Nieburg, Confectionery News

U.S. chocolate manufacturers would forgo buying cocoa from Côte d'Ivoire if a case against a three major cocoa procesors succeeds, warns a dissenting judge. The U.S. Sourt of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last month dismissed Nestlé's motion for rehearing en banc in a lawsuit brought by former child slaves who allege the Swiss giant chocolate firm, ADM and Cargill were complicit in their force work on cocoa farms in West Africa...Dissenting, Judge Rawlinson argued the court had done a disservice to the law by allowing sympathies to run afoul. "I quite agree the plaintiffs are diserving sympathy...But they do not bring this action against the slavers..." "[T]he panel majority concludes that defendant corporations, who engaged in...trade, did so with the purpose that plaintiffs be enslaved..." Later in May, Nestlé, ADM and Cargill successfully applied for the case to be stayed...until they could apply for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court...The parties dispute whether corporations can be responsible for ading and abetting crimes outide the U.S. under the Alient Tort Statute. The firms also claim they lack the mens rea...

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