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SUDANESE LOSE BID TO ESTABLISH CLASS NEW YORK — Sudanese plaintiffs who claim they were victims of genocide at the hands of their government in collaboration with a Canadian oil company have lost their bid for class certification in the Southern District. Judge Denise Cote has refused to certify a class in the action against the Sudanese government and Talisman Energy Inc. that was brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The case alleged Talisman joined in a government strategy of ethnic cleansing that included rape, murder and torture, in part to secure the unmolested development of major oil fields. The number of victims in the putative class in Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, 01 Civ. 9882, was between 114,000 to 250,000. But despite the “calamitous suffering and appalling treatment” of some Sudanese that has been “well-documented,” Judge Cote found individual issues predominated, making the class action vehicle inappropriate. “The core question establishing a genuine controversy is whether the suffering endured by each putative class member can be attributed to the defendants,” she said. “This is fundamentally an individual question.” The judge said this appeared to be the first case in which a federal court has ruled on class certification under rule 23(b)(3) on an action brought for damages for genocide or crimes against humanity. Examining the facts in light of the standard for class certification under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), Judge Cote said the rule’s drafters were driven by the notion of vindicating the rights of people who, individually, would lack the “effective strength” to sue their opponents. — New York Law Journal

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