Daimler must face a U.S. lawsuit regarding Argentina abuse case

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 19, 2011

A U.S. appeals court has ruled that Daimler AG must face litigation over an allegation that its Argentine Mercedes-Benz unit collaborated with state security forces to torture and kill workers it viewed as union agitators during the so-called Dirty War 35 years ago.

Some of the plaintiffs of the case are Mercedes-Benz Argentina’s former employees who were allegedly tortured, kidnapped, detained.

Some of them are also relatives of workers who disappeared and are thought to have been murdered during the Dirty War, which started when the military overthrew the reign of President Isabel Peron in 1976.

The case, which was filed in 2004 in California, has been previously dismissed by a federal district court ruling that it had no jurisdiction because the U.S. unit of the German-based company, then known as DaimlerChrysler AG, did not have sufficient contacts within the state.

A three-judge appeals court panel in San Francisco ruled on Wednesday that the parent company could be sued in California for the reason that the U.S. unit of Mercedes-Benz was the German company's agent.

At that time that the lawsuit was filed, Mercedes-Benz sales in California accounted for 2.4 percent of DaimlerChrysler's total global sales, according to the court. The case was brought back to a federal judge in San Jose, California.

The court did not rule on the merits of the case. The company plans to appeal the ruling, Daimler spokesperson Han Tjan stated. He added that there has been no ruling or judgment made on the underlying allegations, which the company denies.

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