Trafficking in persons

John Doe v. Nestle, S.A.

UNODC No.:
USA136
Author:
Human Trafficking Database of the University of Michigan Law School

Keywords

Sector in which exploitation takes place:
Agriculture
Purpose of Exploitation:
Forced labour or services
Form of Trafficking:
Transnational
Acts:
Harbouring

Procedural Information

Legal System:
Common Law
Latest Court Ruling:
Court of 1st Instance
Type of Proceeding:
Civil
 

1st Instance:

Court: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Date of decision: 2010

Reference: Docket number: 2:05-cv-05133-SVW-JTL

 
 

Victims / Plaintiffs in the first instance

Plaintiff:
Anonymous Individuals aka John Doe
Gender:
Child
Nationality:
Malawian

Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

Respondent:
Nestle S.A., Nestle USA, Nestle Ivory Coast, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Cargill Cocoa, Cargill West Africa S.A., Corporate Does 1-10

Fact Summary

Class action claim by Malian child plaintiffs allegedly trafficked by cocoa growers into Cote D'Ivoire and forced to work in cocoa fields that supplied cocoa beans to defendants. Plaintiffs claimed defendants aided and abetted numerous violations of international and US law. Court granted defendants' motion to dismiss with leave to amend.

Charges / Claims / Decisions

Respondent:
Nestle S.A., Nestle USA, Nestle Ivory Coast, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Cargill Cocoa, Cargill West Africa S.A., Corporate Does 1-10
Charge / Claim:
Forced Labor under Alien Tort Statute
Legislation / Statute / Code:

28 U.S.C. § 1350

Charge / Claim:
Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under Torture Victim Protection Act
Legislation / Statute / Code:

28 U.S.C. § 1350

Charge / Claim:
Torture under Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act
Legislation / Statute / Code:

28 U.S.C. § 1350

Charge / Claim:
Forced labor under Thirteenth Amendment to United States Constitution
Legislation / Statute / Code:

US Constitution, Thirteenth Amendment

Charge / Claim:
Forced Labor
Legislation / Statute / Code:

18 U.S.C. §§ 1589, 1590, and 1595

Charge / Claim:
Forced Labor under California Constitution
Legislation / Statute / Code:

California Constitution, Art. 1, § 6

Legal Reasoning:

All the charges were dismissed by the Court.

The court held that: (1) the allegations failed to satisfy relevant actus reus and mens rea standards under international law for aiding and abetting; (2) the complaint did not identify any conduct by the defendants that materially affected the conduct of the Ivorian traffickers; and (3) corporations as such cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute because corporate liability is not universal and well defined under international law.

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