Bloomberg News

Daimler Loses Bid for Review of Argentine Rights Case Ruling

November 09, 2011

(Updates with Daimler spokesman in sixth paragraph.)

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG lost its bid to have a U.S. appeals court review a ruling that it must face claims that its Argentine Mercedes-Benz unit collaborated with state security forces to kill and torture workers in the so-called Dirty War.

A majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today denied the carmaker’s request to have a larger panel of judges review a decision by three of its judges in May. That panel allowed a lawsuit by Argentine workers and their families filed in San Jose, California, against the Stuttgart, Germany, company to proceed.

The workers sued under the Alien Tort Statute, a law allowing noncitizens to sue in the U.S. for violations of international law.

The U.S. unit of Mercedes-Benz was the German company’s agent, which allows the suit to proceed under the jurisdiction of a U.S. court, the panel ruled. The court didn’t rule on the claims. Daimler denies wrongdoing.

Eight judges on the appeals court disagreed with the majority, saying their colleagues extended the reach of the court “far beyond its breaking point” and the decision was “an affront to due process.”

Daimler plans to seek review of the case in the U.S. Supreme Court, said Han Tjan, a Daimler spokesman.

“A strong, published dissent filed today by eight judges of the Ninth Circuit explains why the panel’s decision is both wrong and unwise,” said Tjan. “If necessary Daimler AG will also vigorously defend itself in the California trial court against the plaintiff’s baseless contentions about Daimler AG’s involvement in events that allegedly occurred over 30 years ago in Argentina.”

Mercedes-Benz Argentina employees were kidnapped, detained or tortured during the Dirty War, the former workers and their families said in a complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California, in 2004. The war began in 1976 when the military overthrew the government of President Isabel Peron.

Mercedes-Benz collaborated with Argentina’s military to brutally punish workers it viewed as union agitators, the workers and their families alleged in court filings. In May, the appeals court panel sent the case back to a federal judge in San Jose

The case is Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler, 07-15386, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

--Editors: Michael Hytha, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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