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Jam v. International Finance Corp.

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20033
Nos. 17-1011, (U.S., 02/27/2019)

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a D.C. Circuit ruling that an international development bank that financed construction of a coal-fired power plant in India was immune from a suit brought by a group of Indian villagers claiming the plant polluted surrounding air, land, and water. The bank argued that the group could not sue it for financing the plant because the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA) granted international organizations the same immunity from suit that foreign governments enjoyed in 1945 when the IOIA was passed. But the high court found that the IOIA granted international organizations the same immunity from suit as was enjoyed by foreign governments at any given time, which in the present day meant that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which was passed in 1952 and placed restrictions on foreign sovereign immunity, governed the scope of immunity. The Court therefore reversed the D.C. Circuit's decision and remanded to that court for further proceedings. Roberts, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Kavanaugh, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.