West Law Report

D.C. Circuit Declines To Overturn Lower Court’s Finding of Justiciability in Tort Suit Brought by Indonesian Villagers

Havard Law Review case summary (Issue 121, Jan 2008): Doe v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 473 F.3d 345 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (.pdf) (8 pages)

FEDERAL COURTS — POLITICAL QUESTION DOCTRINE

In 2001, Exxon Mobil Corporation (Exxon) operated a natural gas extraction and processing facility in the Aceh province of Indonesia. Eleven Acehnese villagers sued Exxon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that Exxon’s security forces — composed of members of the Indonesian military — committed murder, torture, sexual assault, and other tortious acts against them. The plaintiffs brought claims under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), in addition to common law tort claims. Exxon filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the claims were nonjusticiable political questions.

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