Michael Hausfeld and a small band of plaintiffs lawyers have received another boost in their Alien Tort Claims Act suits against Ford, General Motors, IBM, UBS and others. In April, Manhattan federal district court Judge Shira Scheindlin denied motions to dismiss claims that the companies aided and abetted crimes committed by the apartheid regime in South Africa. And this week, the South African government announced that it had dropped its opposition to the litigation.
In a letter delivered to Scheindlin on Tuesday, South Africa’s minister of justice and constitutional development wrote that the country now considers the court to be an “appropriate forum” to hear the remaining claims (pdf). South Africa had previously taken the position that the lawsuits should be dismissed because they would interfere with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission and infringe on its sovereignty.