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Supreme Court’s Shell Game: How Big Corporations Dodge Accountability for Human Rights Abuses

Esther Kiobel and her legal team took on the big bad wolf known as Shell, accusing them of all sorts of nasty stuff like torture, killings, and basically being the baddies in Nigeria.

Posted by John Donovan 31 March 2024

A rewrite in layman’s terms of the Kiobel vs Shell case as described in this Oyez legal article accessed on 31 March 2024

Alright folks, let’s break this down in plain English because, let’s face it, the legal mumbo jumbo can make your head spin faster than a politician dodging questions.

So, here’s the deal: Esther Kiobel and her team took on the big bad wolf known as Shell, accusing them of all sorts of nasty stuff like torture, killings, and basically being the baddies in Nigeria. They thought, “Hey, let’s take these guys to court in the good ol’ US of A under the Alien Tort Statute.”

But guess what? The District Court said, “Nah, you can’t sue corporations under that law.” So, off they went to the Court of Appeals, where the judges were like, “Yep, what they said.”

Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, the Supreme Court steps in. They were supposed to answer two questions: Can corporations be held accountable for being human rights villains, and can you sue them in the US for stuff that happened in another country?

But hold your horses! They only answered the second question. And their answer? “Nope, you can’t sue over that stuff that happened overseas. Our law doesn’t stretch that far.”

Now, you might be thinking, “But what about holding those corporate baddies accountable?” Well, tough luck. The Supreme Court basically said, “Not our problem.”

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more messed up, Esther Kiobel tries her luck in the Dutch courts. But guess what? Shell pulls the same old trick, dragging out the case until the judges say, “Sorry, too late to consider that evidence.”

So, there you have it, folks. Another day, another victory for the big bad corporations. Because when it comes to justice, it seems like they’re always one step ahead. But hey, who said the legal system was fair, right?

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