December 14, 2015 / 2:41 PM / in 3 years

U.S. Supreme Court rejects human rights suit against Occidental

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to revive a human rights lawsuit against Occidental Petroleum Corp and a security contractor that had accused them of complicity in a deadly 1998 bombing by Colombia’s military of a village in the South American country.

The court left intact a November 2014 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stating that victims’ families could not pursue claims against Occidental and Florida-based AirScan Inc under two U.S. human rights laws, the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victims Protection Act.

The lawsuit stemmed from a December 1998 cluster bomb attack by Colombia’s air force that killed 17 people, including six children, in Santo Domingo, a village near an Occidental oil pipeline that had been a target of leftist rebels.

Occidental and AirScan were accused of providing the Colombian military with financial and logistical support. Both denied wrongdoing, and Houston-based Occidental has said it did not provide lethal aid.

The lower court ruling relied in part on a 2013 Supreme Court decision in which the justices ruled unanimously to make it harder for plaintiffs to sue corporations in U.S. courts for alleged abuses occurring overseas.

U.S. companies facing similar suits have had considerable success in citing the ruling, a Reuters analysis showed.

The case on which the court acted on is Mujica v. Occidental, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15-283.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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