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Who Can Be Sued I: Personal Jurisdiction And Theories Of Liability

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Chapter Summary

Lawsuits alleging violations of international human rights must satisfy the standard personal jurisdiction requirements for a federal civil lawsuit. The most difficult debates arise in cases filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). Cases decided prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain held private actors liable in appropriate circumstances, as well as commanding officers, conspirators, and those who aid and abet abuses. This chapter briefly discusses the personal jurisdiction. It addresses three key liability issues. The chapter discusses the pre- and post-Sosa case law governing when private actors can be held liable for human rights violations. It analyzes the standards for holding higher officials liable for the violations committed by their subordinates. The chapter addresses various doctrines according to which defendants can be held liable for violations directly perpetrated by others, including conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and various common law tort theories.

Keywords: Alien Tort Statute (ATS); human rights violations; personal jurisdiction; theories of liability



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