On Thursday, judges ruled eight to one in favor of the two companies (Nestle and Cargill)and a group of six Malian adults; who claimed they were abducted from their country as children and forced to work on cocoa farms as child workers in neighboring Ivory Coast. The judges said an appeals court was wrong to allow the group to pursue its case.
The case, which the court heard last year, was one of a series of cases in which noncitizens attempted to settle disputes in American courts; citing carve-outs in international law for human rights abuses. In the other two cases; Holocaust survivors and their descendants asked the court to allow lawsuits against Germany and Hungary to proceed in American courts. In both, the court refused.
Many justices during December arguments were skeptical in this case, as well. The petitioners, six former child slaves in Mali, were seeking to sue Nestle and the Minnesota-based company Cargill; on the grounds that they had turned a blind eye to instances of child labor on cocoa farms.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with food giants Nestlé and Cargill in a lawsuit that claimed they knowingly purchased cocoa beans from African child slavery farms.
The former child workers alleged that the two companies; which worked with independent contractors; “knew or should have known” that their product was produced using child labor.
Although the defendants’ injuries occurred entirely abroad, the Ninth Circuit held that the defendants could sue in federal court; because the defendant companies allegedly made “major business decisions” in the United States.