[JURIST] A $15.5 million settlement [press release] was reached Monday between Royal Dutch Shell PLC [corporate website] and the families of nine Nigerian activists who were killed in 1995. The settlement came [WSJ report] as the case was scheduled to go to trial in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. Shell did not admit any wrongdoing in the deaths of the nine activists, which included Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known Nigerian activist and writer. Saro-Wiwa founded the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People [advocacy website]. An organization that is credited with assisting in ceasing oil production in Ogoniland. The plaintiffs brought the case in the US federal court system under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) [28 USC § 1350 text].
Shell has previously faced legal issues in Nigeria. In 2006, a Nigerian court ordered Shell to pay [JURIST report] $1.5 billion for its role in environmental damages that took place within the country. The ATCA gives US courts statutory authority to hear human rights cases brought against US companies by foreign citizens. In January, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] reversed [JURIST report] a district court opinion, reviving two lawsuits brought by Nigerian families against Pfizer under the ATCA.