Last week couldn’t have gone worse for alien tort plaintiffs. On Friday the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a death blow to their cause. In a 2-1 vote, a panel ruled that corporations are not liable under the Alien Tort Statute. And just days before that ruling, a state court judge in Los Angeles dismissed a case against Dole Food that grew out of conduct that allegedly occurred in Colombia over a decade dating back to 1997.

Dole was accused of making illegal payments to a paramilitary organization known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The plaintiffs, 185 relatives of Colombians murdered at the hands of the AUC, claimed that Dole had paid the organization to drive local banana farmers from their land and protect its property from vandals. On Sept. 14, Los Angeles Superior Court judge Ann Jones dismissed the complaint (pdf) on statute of limitations grounds.

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