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Understanding The Alien Tort Statute (Ats): The Analytic Framework

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Chapter Summary

In order to litigate a claim in federal court, plaintiffs must show both federal subject matter jurisdiction and a basis for the private right to sue or cause of action. Sosa clarified the central choice of law issues in Alien Tort Statute (ATS) cases by holding: (1) the substantive violation is governed by international law; and (2) federal common law provides the cause of action and, therefore, governs non-substantive issues. Several courts have applied the federal common law choice of law reflected in the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws (the Restatement). The Supreme Court in Sosa recognized that federal common law provides the cause of action in ATS claims, thus ratifying the Filártiga approach. Choice of law questions arise in several contexts in ATS cases, including the statute of limitations, standing to sue, damages, and abatement.

Keywords: Alien Tort Statute (ATS) cases; federal common law; Filártiga approach; Sosa; Supreme Court



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