An historically significant class action lawsuit will be filed tomorrow— November 8, 2001—against Talisman Energy Inc. in United States federal court, specifically the District Court for the Southern District of New York (New York City). Brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the lawsuit has as its class of plaintiffs southern Sudanese affected by military destruction associated with oil development. Given the huge number of potential plaintiffs, damages against Talisman could be financially staggering. Moreover, an exit from Sudan would not in any way free them from the legal obligations at issue in the lawsuit. Legal counsel for the plaintiffs includes the New York law firm of Carey R. D’Avino, P.C, and the Philadelphia law firm of Berger & Montague, widely recognized as one of the most successful in the country in the arena of class action lawsuits.
Eric Reeves [November 7, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
This lawsuit has been long in the making, and the filing tomorrow is the culmination of almost two years of research and legal preparation. It gives the people of southern Sudan a powerful voice in the highest American institutions of legal justice. Their case is compelling legally under the terms of the Alien Tort Claims Act—and morally it is overwhelming. To quote from the introduction of the 15-page complaint to be filed tomorrow:
“Talisman [Energy Inc.] has deliberately and intentionally facilitated, conspired in or aided and abetted in the use of armed forces in a brutal campaign of terror against a civilian population based on their race and/or religion for the purpose of enhancing its ability to explore and extract oil from areas of the southern Sudan by creating a cordon sanitaire surrounding Talisman’s oil concessions. The armed campaign, which has resulted in massive civilian displacement, the burning of villages, churches and crops, and the murder and enslavement of innocent civilians, is possible only through the Government’s utilization of infrastructure, such as roads and airfields, constructed by Talisman. Despite its knowledge of the nature of the military campaign, Talisman has consented to the use of its facilities for this illegal purpose. Talisman’s acts, as set forth herein, violate international law.”
Various legal issues—evidentiary and jurisdictional—have been assiduously researched and addressed fully in this complaint. It stands as an historic moment in the rebuking of Talisman Energy’s implicit claim to operate with impunity in Sudan, despite its clear complicity in massive human suffering and destruction.
Moreover, this filing puts all oil companies operating in Sudan—or contemplating an entrance—on notice: if you have a corporate presence in the United States and are complicit in the oil-driven destruction of the people of southern Sudan, you will face legal action.
Plaintiffs in the case are listed as:
“The Presbyterian Church of the Sudan, by and through Rev. John Sudan Gaduel, Nyeyang Moon, and Stephen Kuina, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated—”
Legal representation in this case will be provided by:
Carey R. D’Avino, P.C.
1251 Avenue of the Americas, 42nd Floor
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (212) 278-1382
Fax: (212) 278-1733
Law firm of Berger & Montague
Stephen A. Whinston
Edward W. Millstein
1622 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Tel: (215) 875-3097
Fax: (215) 875-3053
[The entire complaint and related materials are available at: