The American justice system has shown a large degree of overreach in the not so distant past, punishing or shaking down foreign companies for misdeeds performed on foreign soils by foreign perpetrators on foreign victims. This is not a matter of right or wrong. It is a matter of jurisdiction and sovereignty. Enough is enough, says the U.S. Supreme Court and decided to hear Daimler’s appeal against a decision by a San Francisco court that workers or relatives of workers at an Argentina-based plant operated by Mercedes-Benz, a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler, can sue for alleged human rights abuses performed by Daimler in the 1970s in collusion with Argentina’s then military junta. Daimler had been on the receiving end of judicial overreach in the past.
According to Reuters, plaintiffs “ claimed the company had punished plant workers viewed by managers as union agitators and that it had worked alongside the Argentinian military and police forces.”
The dispute is not about the allegations; the dispute is about whether suit can be brought in America for alleged misdeeds perpetrated by foreigners outside of the country, simply on the very thin grounds “that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant.”
The case isn’t won yet, but Daimler can breathe a little easier.