BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.

To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.

To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.

Login Register Subscribe

Ford, IBM defeat appeal over apartheid abuses


(Reuters) — Victims of apartheid in South Africa cannot pursue lawsuits seeking to hold Ford Motor Co. and IBM Corp. liable for conducting business that helped perpetuate the practice decades ago, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said black South Africans did not show that Ford and IBM engaged in enough wrongdoing in the United States from the 1970s to early 1990s to justify lawsuits over their alleged roles in killings, torture and other human rights abuses.

Ford was accused of providing military vehicles for South African security forces, and sharing information about anti-apartheid and union activists. IBM was accused of providing technology and training to perpetuate racial separation and the “denationalization” of black South Africans.

The plaintiffs sued 13 years ago under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law that lets non-U.S. citizens seek damages in U.S. courts for human rights abuses abroad.

But the U.S. Supreme Court significantly narrowed the reach of that law in April 2013, leading a reluctant U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in August 2014 to dismiss the South African plaintiffs' case.

Upholding Judge Scheindlin's ruling, Circuit Judge José Cabranes wrote for a unanimous appeals court panel that Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford could not be held directly responsible for alleged improper actions by its South African unit.

He also found no showing that “by developing hardware and software to collect innocuous population data,” Armonk, New York-based IBM purposefully contributed to apartheid-era abuses.

“Knowledge of or complicity in the perpetration of a crime under the law of nations (customary international law ) — absent evidence that a defendant purposefully facilitated the commission of that crime — is insufficient to establish a claim of aiding and abetting liability under the ATS,” Judge Cabranes wrote.

Diane Sammons, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that Ford's U.S. conduct justified liability, and called it “astounding” that IBM's conduct was not deemed purposeful.

“We certainly will consider an appeal to the Supreme Court,” she said.

Ford and IBM did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Germany's Daimler A.G. and Rheinmetall A.G. were dismissed as defendants from the case in December 2013. Dozens of companies were previously dismissed.

Apartheid ended in 1994 when South Africa held its first all-race elections, bringing Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress to power.

Read Next

  • Insurance penetration in Africa faces challenges

    Nigeria-based Continental Reinsurance P.L.C. group managing director Femi Oyetunji has said in an interview that the level of insurance penetration in Africa, apart from South Africa, is very low, reported Nigeria's BusinessDay.