US: Ford escapes again from lawsuits concerning South African apartheid image

According to a US appeals court decision on Monday, Ford Motor, the second largest US automaker and IBM Corp cannot be held accountable in the country by victims of the apartheid in South Africa.

The companies were called liable for the way they conducted their businesses decades ago, with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York deciding black South Africans were unable to demonstrate Ford and International Business Machines Corp wrongdoings in the United States from the 1970s to early 1990s to justify the claimed lawsuits. The victims tried to held the companies accountable for claimed roles in killings, torture and other human rights abuses. Ford’s was accused of delivering military vehicles for South African security forces and also giving up information concerning anti-apartheid and union activists. The plaintiffs decided to call them to the stand 13 years ago under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law that allows non-US citizens to claim damages in the country’s courts for human rights abuses abroad. But the US Supreme Court back in 2013 modified the law and allowed a reluctant U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in August 2014 decide against pursuing the plaintiffs’ case.

Now the dismissal was upheld by Circuit Judge José Cabranes claiming that Ford was not directly responsible for the alleged wrongdoings of its South African division. The automaker issued a statement following the result, adding it was still committed to expansion in South Afirca, following 91 years of uninterrupted production there. Ford was not the only carmaker escaping litigation, which also included most recently Germany’s Daimler AG.

Via Reuters