In a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court issued a decision finding that foreign corporations are immune from suit for violations of international human rights under the Alien Tort Statute. The Court's decision is based on the broad idea that there is no corporate liability under international law--reasoning that would preclude liability for both foreign and domestic companies.
Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, wrote: “[A]llowing plaintiffs to sue foreign corporations under the ATS could establish a precedent that discourages American corporations from investing abroad, including in developing economies where the host government might have a history of alleged human rights violations, or where judicial systems might lack the safeguards of United States courts. And, in consequence, that often might deter the active corporate investment that contributes to the economic development that so often is an essential foundation for human rights.” Justice Sotomayor dissents by saying:
There can be, and sometimes is, a profit motive for these types of abuses. Although the market does not price all externalities, the law does. We recognize as much when we permit a civil suit to proceed against a paint company that long knew its product contained lead yet continued to sell it to families, or against an oil company that failed to undertake the requisite safety checks on a pipeline that subsequently burst.