SW Legal studies in Business

Use of Pesticide on Agricultural Plantation in Africa Not a Violation of Alien Tort Statute

Appeals court held that there was no basis for suit brought in U.S. court against various chemical companies and agricultural companies that grew fruit in Africa. Plaintiffs contended that defendants intended to commit genocide by use of the pesticide. There was no evidence of that nor were the requirements of the Alien Tort Statute met.

Topic International Law
Key Words

Alien Tort Statute; Pesticides

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Abegninin and others who have lived and worked on banana and pineapple plantations in the Ivory Coast sued various fruit growers and the makers of the pesticide DBCP. They claimed the pesticide caused male sterility. Suit was brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), contending that defendants knew of the negative effects of DBCP so that its use was genocide and a crime against humanity. They contended that the companies intended to destroy villages and their people. The district court dismissed the suit. Plaintiffs appealed.


Affirmed. Under the ATS, specific intent of harm is required to be shown. This is the same as “customary international law” that requires violation of a specific, universal and obligatory norm. The contention that the companies intended to commit genocide is a conclusion not supported by evidence. Further, there was no state or organizational policy, as required for a claim of a crime against humanity. Purchase and use of the pesticide does not qualify as a state or state-like organization intending to destroy humanity.

Citation Abagninin v. AMVAC Chemical Corp., 545 F.3d 733 (9th Cir., 2008)

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