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Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
643 F.3d 1013 (2011)


Facts

Twenty-three Liberian children (plaintiffs) sued Firestone Natural Rubber Co. (Firestone) in a federal district court, alleging that Firestone’s use of child labor on its rubber-harvesting plantation in Liberia was a violation of customary international law making Firestone liable under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). Approximately 6,500 Firestone employees and their families lived on the plantation, which spanned 186 square miles. Firestone did not directly employ any children. Plaintiffs alleged, however, that the rigorous quotas imposed by Firestone induced plantation employees to use their children as aides and that Firestone officials were aware of, and even condoned, the practice. Plaintiffs did not supply facts documenting the number of children working on the plantation nor the extent or content of their labor. As a general matter, however, harvesting rubber was difficult, hazardous work. Firestone moved for summary judgment on the grounds that its corporate status immunized it from suit under the ATS and that, even if suit were permitted, plaintiffs could not show that Firestone had violated customary international law. The district court granted summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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