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U.S. judge rules apartheid victims can sue Ford, GM

Posted Thursday, Apr 9, 2009, 11:59 am in Employee News

Apartheid victims who accused Ford Motor Company, General Motors and IBM of helping the government of South Africa engage in violent repression to enforce racial segregation in the 1970s and ’80s can go to trial with their claims, a judge ruled Wednesday, the Associated Press said.

U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin rejected assertions by several countries that the lawsuits should not proceed because that might harm relations between the United States and South Africa, the AP story reported. The written decision was related to lawsuits filed about seven years ago on behalf of victims of apartheid, according to the AP.

The lawsuits once targeted many more U.S. corporations, including oil companies and banking institutions, but the number of defendants was decreased after the lawsuits were tossed out by one judge, and an appeals court that reinstated them said allegations needed more specifics, the story said.

The plaintiffs, at least thousands of people seeking unspecified damages, allege the automakers supplied military vehicles that let securities forces suppress black South Africans, according to the AP. IBM is accused of providing equipment used to track dissidents. (Associated Press/Detroit Free Press)
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