Blog: paul hoffman

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September 20, 2013

Plaintiffs File Petition in Second Circuit Court of Appeals to Review Panel’s Decision in Apartheid Case

Posted by Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein

This week, the International Human Rights Clinic, along with co-counsel, filed a petition on behalf of plaintiffs for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc to review the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in Balintulo v. Daimler AG, which is also known as the In Re South African Apartheid Litigation. The petition stated that, “The panel opinion in Balintulo v. Daimler AG  would eviscerate more than thirty years of this Court’s Alien Tort Statute (‘ATS’) jurisprudence and should be reviewed en banc because it conflicts with the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. as well as decisions in this Circuit.”

The petition comes more than 10 years after cases were first filed in the United States in 2002. Three defendant corporations—Ford Motor Company, Daimler AG, and International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)—remain from the original cases and are charged with complicity in the perpetration of apartheid-era crimes and human rights violations.

The petition seeks review of an August 21 decision by a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit that lifted a stay and sent the matter back to district court Judge Shira Scheindlin to consider the plaintiffs’ claims in light of the Supreme Court’s April decision in Kiobel. In the wake of the Kiobel ruling, which found that ATS claims must “touch and concern” the United States, the Second Circuit had requested letter briefs from both the plaintiffs and defendants. The briefs were submitted in late May, and in August, the Second Circuit stated that in light of Kiobel, “the Alien Tort Statute does not reach the extraterritorial conduct in this case.”

The U.S.-based lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the cases include Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun, De Simone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP, Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld, LLP, Diane Sammons and Jay Rice of Nagel Rice LLP, and Judith Brown Chomsky of the Law Offices of Judith Brown Chomsky. The South African-based legal team includes Dumisa Ntsebeza, John Ngcebetsha, Charles Abrahams, Medi Mokuena, and Michael Osborne.

September 17, 2012

Today, Sept. 18: Paul Hoffman, Lead Counsel in Kiobel, on the Future of the ATS

Posted by Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini

Please join us tomorrow, September 18, for a talk with Paul Hoffman, lead counsel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain. Paul is the leading Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigator in the country, serving as counsel in ATS cases including Unocal, Wiwa, Apartheid, Talisman, and Kiobel, and arguing Sosa before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Event poster depicts a man in orange holding a tool. His jumpsuit says "shell" and he stands in front of machinery.

Tomorrow, from 12:00-1:00 pm in Milstein 2036, he will speak with us about the future of human rights litigation in U.S. courts in the context of Kiobel, a case against Shell for human rights violations committed in Nigeria.

Paul first argued the Kiobel case in front of the Supreme Court last February, addressing the question of whether corporations can be held liable under the statute.  In an unusual move, following that argument the Court requested supplemental briefing and reargument on the question of whether the ATS extends to international law violations committed outside the United States, in the territory of a foreign sovereign.  Given the case’s potential impact on the ability of survivors of human rights abuse to seek justice in U.S. courts, it will be a privilege to hear Paul’s thoughts as he prepares to reargue Kiobel on October 1st, in the Court’s first hearing of the new term.

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August 24, 2011

Clinic Files UN Complaint on Behalf of Filipina-American Abducted and Tortured in the Philippines


Melissa Roxas asks UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to call for full and impartial investigation
into her abduction and torture in the Philippines in 2009

August 24, 2011, Los Angeles, CA
—Filipina-American Melissa Roxas has filed a submission with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture seeking justice for the abduction and torture she suffered in the Philippines in 2009.  The submission, prepared by the International Human Rights Clinic and the firm of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison LLP, requests that the Special Rapporteur call upon the Philippines government to investigate Ms. Roxas’s abuse in order to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable.

Melisa Roxas speaks into a microphone.
Melissa Roxas, a Filipina-American, was kidnapped and tortured in the Philippines in 2009.

In May 2009, Ms. Roxas was preparing for an aid mission in the Philippines when approximately fifteen armed men abducted her, along with two companions.  She was then held for six days, during which time she was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, deprived of food and water, and brutally interrogated.  During these interrogations, Ms. Roxas was choked, beaten, and suffocated with a plastic bag.  While in captivity, Ms. Roxas heard sounds consistent with those of a military airbase.  For example, some of her captors used the greeting “sir,” and one informed her she had been detained by a special forces unit of the Philippines military.

Ms. Roxas initially pursued investigations in the Philippines, but with limited success.  While the Philippines judicial system and other bodies agreed that her allegations of detention and torture were factually true, they failed to identify the perpetrators.  Some of Ms. Roxas’s efforts to investigate were barred.  For example, though Ms. Roxas presented evidence indicating that she had been abducted by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, she was prohibited from inspecting the military base where she suspects the detention occurred.

“Although no one denies the abuse that I suffered, the Philippines government has repeatedly denied me justice for it,” said Ms. Roxas, who continues to seek a full and impartial investigation that will lead to accountability for those responsible.

“Faced with a lack of transparency and a lack of results in the Philippines, Melissa Roxas had to turn to the UN,” said Paul Hoffman, Ms. Roxas’s attorney at Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison.  “Rather than accepting impunity she is taking her case to the international level.”

Continue Reading…

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March 7, 2011

Talk by Paul Hoffman Today: “The Future of Corporate Alien Tort Statute Litigation”

Posted by Susan Farbstein

Please join us today, March 8, for a talk with Paul Hoffman, Lead Counsel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Sosa v.  Alvarez-Machain.

Paul is the leading Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigator in the country, serving as counsel in numerous corporate cases including Unocal, Wiwa, Apartheid, Talisman, and Kiobel, and arguing Sosa before the Supreme Court.  Today, from 2:30-4:00 pm in Pound 335, he will speak with us about the future of corporate ATS litigation in the wake of Kiobel, the Second Circuit’s recent decision finding that corporations cannot be held liable under the statute.

After 15 years of ATS litigation against corporations complicit in human rights violations, resulting in several notable settlements, Kiobel represents a major departure in the jurisprudence.  At this particularly interesting moment, it really will be a privilege to hear Paul’s thoughts about where the courts are headed and what Kiobel means for future efforts to hold corporations accountable when they aid and abet violations of fundamental human rights.

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