The plaintiffs in this case are Ecuadorian villagers harmed by the spraying of toxic herbicides by DynCorp, a contractor for the U.S. government’s anti-narcotics program in Colombia.
This case involves DynCorp’s aerial spraying of herbicides on the Colombian side of the Ecuador/Colombia border as part of the U.S. government’s “Plan Colombia” coca eradication program. Plaintiffs allege that DynCorp knew or should have known that the herbicides were highly toxic if inhaled, and nonetheless sprayed these herbicides despite knowing that winds would carry them into areas of Ecuador where the plaintiffs live. According to plaintiffs’ complaint, local people suffered massive health problems, numerous deaths and widespread environmental damage to their subsistence agriculture, and at least 10,000 people were harmed. Counsel for the plaintiffs include the International Labor Rights Fund and the Law Offices of Cristobal Bonifaz.
EarthRights International, along with the Amazon Alliance and Friends of the Earth-US filed an amici curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs and opposing DynCorp’s motion to dismiss. The brief argues that significant environmental harms that cross international boundaries violate international law and are actionable under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. � 1350, particularly where the harms are serious enough to violate the right to a healthy environment, i.e. they are long-term, widespread and severe, they violate the rights to life, security of the person and health on a mass scale or they deprive substantial numbers of people of their means of subsistence.
In May 2007, the Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss and allowed plaintiffs’ claims to proceed to discovery.