Kiobel and other Nigerian nationals residing in the United States (plaintiffs) filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Dutch, British, and Nigerian petroleum corporations (oil companies) (defendants). The complaint alleged violations of the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, in the early 1990s for aiding and abetting the Nigerian government in atrocities including rape, murder, and property destruction against citizens protesting oil exploration in their location. The plaintiffs moved to the United States after the atrocities, were granted political asylum, and became legal residents. The Alien Tort Statute gives federal district courts original jurisdiction over any civil action by an alien for a tort committed in violation of the law of nations. The district court granted in part and denied in part the oil companies’ motion to dismiss and certified its order for interlocutory appeal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the entire complaint, holding that the law of nations does not apply to corporations. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on that question and on whether federal courts have jurisdiction over alleged violations of the law of nations occurring within a foreign territory.