Lawsuit against Drummond for alleged complicity in killing 34 people during Colombian civil war

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Article
27 September 2016

Opinion Issued on the Courts own Motion Opinion, Melo et al. v. Drummond

Author: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

This appeal arises out of the fourth of four actions brought in the Northern District of Alabama by Colombian plaintiffs as legal representatives or wrongful death beneficiaries of decedents allegedly executed by members of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a right-wing paramilitary group, during a period of heightened conflict between the AUC and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a left-wing guerilla group. In this action, the Plaintiffs sue Drummond...under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS),...the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA),...and Colombian wrongful death law...The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants provided substantial financial assistance to the Northern Block of the AUC in return for protection of Drummond’s Colombian assets and operations...After this Court affirmed dismissals and summary judgment in two of the related cases..., the district court ordered the parties to show cause why this case should not be dismissed on the authority of this Court’s recent decisions...On January 26, 2016, the district court dismissed with prejudice all of the Plaintiffs’ claims.  The district court did not elaborate upon the grounds for dismissal...After review, we affirm in part, reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand in part with instructions...

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Article
27 September 2016

US court of appeal reverses part of dismissal decision in lawsuit against Drummond for killings in Colombia

Author: Terrence P. Collingsworth, International Rights Advocates

"11th Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Favorable Opinion in our case against Drummond", 27 Sep 2016

On September 27, 2016, in Melo et al. v. Drummond Company...the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the District Court’s dismissal of claims brought by the heirs of 34 decedents they allege were murdered by members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (“AUC”) who were collaborating with Drummond...Plaintiffs allege that Drummond is liable for wrongful death for the murder of their [relatives] under Colombian law, and the trial court has mandatory diversity jurisdiction...The Appeals Court agreed with Plaintiffs that the trial court could not summarily dismiss these claims and remanded for further consideration...Finally, Plaintiffs allege causes of action for both war crimes and extrajudicial killing against all the Drummond defendants under the Alien Tort Statute...The trial court, based on a ruling limiting the extraterritorial application of the ATS by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kiobel...dismissed those claims with prejudice.  The Appeals Court reversed that holding and directed that the claims be categorized as dismissed without prejudice, leaving room for the Plaintiffs to refile and seek to meet the new standard of the Kiobel decision...

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Article
22 July 2016

Appellants' Reply Brief, Marisol Melo Penaloza, et al., v. Drummond Company, INC., et al.

Author: Terrence P. Collingsworth, International Rights Advocates

…Plaintiffs are wrongful death claimants of 34 decedents executed during the Colombian civil conflict by the paramilitary group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). They brought claims under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA)...and Colombia’s wrongful death law against the Drummond Defendants based on allegations they collaborated with the AUC in the murders of Plaintiffs’ decedents. Drummond’s arguments to affirm the District Court’s pro forma dismissal of all of Plaintiffs’ claims would require this Court to ignore at least four wellestablished rules of procedure: First, this Court’s rulings are overwhelming that in dismissing all of the claims without any dismissal motion by Drummond pending, the District Court was required to provide a ruling with clear reasoning, rather than a general…Second, Drummond ignores clear precedent in urging this Court to simply decide on appeal the complex, factually-laden issues that were not decided by the District Court…Third…Drummond urges the Court, again in the absence of a pending motion and without any specific ruling below by the District Court on the TVPA claims, to act as if there is a motion to dismiss now pending before this Court, and dismiss the TVPA claims…

 

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