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Apartheid-Era Torture Claims|Survive Against Auto Makers

MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal judge will allow "massive classes of South African plaintiffs" to proceed with claims accusing Daimler, General Motors and Ford with "aiding and abetting torture, CIDT [cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment], extrajudicial killing and apartheid," accusing IBM of "aiding and abetting arbitrary denationalization and apartheid," and accusing Rheinmetall of "aiding and abetting extrajudicial killing and apartheid." U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin dismissed other claims with prejudice, and dismissed some with leave to amend.

Judge Scheindlin's 144-page opinion and order, filed Wednesday, involved the class action Lungisile Ntsebeza et al. v Daimler AG et al., and Khulumani et al. v Barclays National Bank LTD et al.

In her conclusion, Judge Scheindlin wrote: "What remains of these consolidated cases is vastly different from the dozen actions first filed in 2002 and 2003. Corporate defendants accused of merely doing business with the apartheid Government of South Africa have been dismissed. Claims that a corporation that aided and abetted particular acts could be liable for the breadth of harms committed under apartheid have been rejected. What survives are much narrower cases that this Court hopes will move toward resolution after more than five years spent litigating motions to dismiss."

Judge Scheindlin dismissed these claims with leave to amend: "Khulumani plaintiffs against IBM and Fujitsu for aiding and abetting apartheid.

"[And] Khulumani plaintiffs against Daimler, GM, and Ford for aiding and abetting extrajudicial killing and apartheid.

"All other claims are dismissed with prejudice, as any amendment would be futile. The Khulumani plaintiffs many file an amended complaint by May 1, 2009. The stay concerning Rheinmetall Group's objections to the exercise of personal jurisdiction and to improper service of process under the Hague Convention is now lifted, and Theinmetall may file a motion to dismiss on those grounds by May 1, 2009."

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