The Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit Thursday alleges Nestle and Cargill trafficked child slaves to farms in the West African nation the Ivory Coast to work on cocoa farms for the food companies.
The nation’s highest court ruled in an 8-1 decision that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the court does not have jurisdiction in the country in which the alleged crimes took place.
In the majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, Thomas argued the foreign plaintiffs did not provide enough connection between their claims and the American-based companies to justify their suit.
The case was brought to the court by six plaintiffs, who were originally from Mali, another West African nation. The plaintiffs attempted to use the 1789 Alien Tort Statute, a law that allows foreigners to bring certain suits to U.S. courts.
“We are disappointed that the Court read our allegations as claiming general corporate oversight by these companies over their Ivory Coast operations,” said plaintiff attorney Paul Hoffman, according to The Hill. “We believe that the companies are more deeply involved in the system of child slavery in that country. We will be able to amend our complaint to address the Court’s standard.”
A Nestle spokesperson said after the decision that “Child labor is unacceptable. That is why we are working so hard to prevent it,” according to CNBC News. “Nestlé never engaged in the egregious child labor alleged in this suit, and we remain unwavering in our dedication to combatting child labor in the cocoa industry.”