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Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc.

Citation: 30 ELR 20231
No. No. 98-30235, 197 F.3d 161/(5th Cir., 11/29/1999)

The court affirms a district court ruling and holds that domestic corporations conducting mining activities in the Pacific Rim did not violate international law. A resident of the Republic of Indonesia alleged that the corporations' mining operations caused environmental abuses, human rights violations, and cultural genocide under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). The court first holds that the resident's pleadings do not sufficiently state claims for individual human rights violations under the ATS. The pleadings merely make conclusory allegations without names, dates, locations, times, or any facts that would put the corporations on notice as to the conduct that supports the resident's claims. The court next holds that the resident failed to show in his pleadings that the corporations' mining activities constitute environmental torts or abuses under international law. The ATS applies only to shockingly egregious violations of universally recognized principles of international law. The resident cites international laws that refer to a general sense of environmental responsibility and abstract rights and liberties, but fails to show that these treaties and agreements enjoy universal acceptance in the international community. Moreover, the sources of international law cited by the resident are devoid of articulable or discernable standards and regulations to identify practices that constitute international environmental abuses or torts. The court also holds that the resident's claims of genocide and cultural genocide are facially insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss because they are saturated with conclusory allegations devoid of any underlying facts. The court additionally holds that the resident's pleadings lack the requisite specificity and definiteness to support claims of human rights violations under the TVPA.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (9 pp., ELR Order No. L-145).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Martin E. Regan Jr.
Regan, Manasseh & Boshea
2125 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 522-7260

Counsel for Defendants
John C. Reynolds
Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre
201 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans LA 70170
(504) 582-8000