I’ve posted several times before on the many crimes of Riotinto – bunkered down in their London headquarters (formerly 6 St James Square, now 2 Eastbourne Terrace), they plunder the world with near impunity, though Partizans, Minewatch and this bunch of activist-lawyers (below) are keen to dent their stock. Oh, and the Chinese deal went comically wrong which was also entertaining. None of this is sufficient yet, but the long arm of legalese may still raise a few bucks compensation for Bougainville. Have a look at the RTZ brochures/website on a quiet day if you ever feel the need to get incensed about something – they hand them out at the office (reminder 2 Eastbourne Terrace, near paddington). Here is the latest from the lefty-legal firm:
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro: Plaintiffs Celebrate as Rio Tinto Loses
August 3, 2009 6:52 PM EDT
SEATTLE, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ — The United States Federal Court again rejected arguments from Rio Tinto (NYSE: RTP) late last week, in a massive human rights claim brought by South Pacific islanders claiming the world’s largest mining company conspired with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in crimes against humanity, racial discrimination and war crimes.
In the most recent ruling, Judge Margaret M. Morrow held that the heinous nature of the allegations led to the court’s conclusion not to impose an “exhaustion requirement” with respect to the claims.
An exhaustion requirement would require the Court to explore the possibility of dismissing the case in the United States, leaving plaintiffs to start the legal process all over again in Papua New Guinea.
“Rio Tinto has tried every possible stalling tactic to prolong the case,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney and managing partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. “Now that the court has rejected Rio’s arguments again, we’re eager to move this case forward so that the people of PNG can receive the justice they deserve.”
The case, originally filed in 2000 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks to represent Bougainville island residents exposed to toxins resulting from Rio Tinto mine operations and those who were injured or killed during the political and social conflict between Rio Tinto and PNG citizens, which began in 1989 and raged until 1999.
Rio Tinto has argued for years that despite the Alien Tort Claims Act explicitly stating that foreign nationals can bring suit in the United States against companies that violate international law, plaintiffs in the Rio Tinto case should not be allowed to do so. Rio Tinto is the parent company of subsidiary U.S. Borax Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles.
“We are anxious to show the world evidence of the company’s participation in these international law violations from former senior level army officers,” said Berman. “We are eager to introduce evidence showing that Rio supplied gunships and supplies and facilitated war crimes in order to keep revenues from their mine flowing.”
According to a declaration by General Singirok, commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) at the time of the alleged atrocities in the 1990s,”the PNGDF was Rio Tinto’s personal security force and was ordered to take action by any means necessary.”
“We can only hope that Judge Morrow’s thorough and reasoned opinion will allow victims in this case an opportunity to prove the allegations against Rio for its indefensible human rights violations,” Berman continued.
About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
The law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with offices in Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. Since the firm’s founding in 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized practice in class-action and complex litigation. Among recent successes, HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as lead counsel in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 million settlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS also served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in the Washington Public Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing of HBSS cases, visit www.hbsslaw.com.Contacts:Steve Berman Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro (206) 623-7292 Steve@hbsslaw.comMark Firmani Firmani + Associates Inc. (206) 443-9357 Mark@firmani.com
SOURCE Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro