Amicus Brief in Sinaltrainal v. Coca Cola
Plaintiffs in Sinaltrainal v. Coca Cola alleged that defendant soft-drink companies were complicit in egregious human rights abuses committed against trade unionists by Colombian paramilitaries. The case was dismissed at the trial court level. Plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In April 2008, ERI submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals on behalf of ERI, the Colombian Institute of International Law, and George Washington University Law School International Human Rights Clinic. The brief described the legal standards that govern whether abuses committed during a civil war have a sufficient nexus to the conflict to be considered war crimes and the standards that are applicable to determine whether a nominally private party that is complicit in summary execution and torture can be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act. In August, 2009, the Court affirmed dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims. The Court found with respect to the plaintiffs’ torture and execution claims that the plaintiffs did not sufficiently allege that the paramilitaries who committed the abuses were acting under color of state law, and with respect to their war crimes claims, that plaintiffs did not adequately allege that the abuses were committed in the course of the war.