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U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Rules to Move Forward Two Human Rights Cases Against Exxon Mobil

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 15:20 -- admin


September 24, 2014--Today, the federal district court in the District of Columbia ruled that two closely related lawsuits against Exxon Mobil for human rights abuses can go forward.  

Two groups of Indonesian citizens sued Exxon Mobil Corporation for abuses allegedly committed by ExxonMobil’s security personnel.  Plaintiffs allege that these security personnel physically abused and killed their family members who lived or worked in villages within Exxon’s sprawling operations in rural Aceh, Indonesia. 

Terry Collingsworth, a partner at Conrad & Scherer and co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs stated “Since I first met our clients in 2001 in war-torn Aceh, Indonesia, they have endured not only the agony of human rights crimes, but over 13 years of justice delayed. We are looking forward to getting this case to trial so that our long-suffering clients can obtain justice.”

Agnieszka Fryszman, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and co-counsel for the Plaintiffs, said: “This is a big victory for the Plaintiffs.” 

In 2008, another judge on the district court had denied Exxon Mobil's attempt to avoid trial by rejecting Exxon’s motion for summary judgment, citing “evidence that these security forces committed the alleged atrocities” and that they were under ExxonMobil’s employ.  The Court of Appeals then held that the claims must be considered under Indonesian law, not the law of the District of Columbia.

Today, the District Court in a meticulous 43 page opinion:

(1)  Held that Plaintiffs claims can go forward under Indonesian law.

(2) Permits Plaintiffs to add information regarding Exxon’s conduct in the United States in order to meet the standard set out by a recent Supreme Court decision, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell, 133 S.Ct. 1659 (2013).

(3) Rejected Exxon’s arguments regarding the application of a variety of international law doctrines.

(4) Permits Plaintiffs to gather additional evidence in support of their claims.

Co-counsel Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison, LLP, said “The well-reasoned and thoughtful opinion is an important one for the enforcement of human rights law.”

For more information on our Exxon Mobil case, click here.


Terry Collingsworth

(202) 543-5811


Agnieszka Fryszman

(202) 408-4611 (direct)

(202) 746-8732 (cell)


Paul Hoffman

(310) 396-0731