A federal judge today said there is sufficient evidence for a jury to decide whether Exxon should be held liable for the actions of Indonesian soldiers who, while guarding Exxon assets, allegedly beat, shot, tortured, and raped villagers eight years ago.
Exxon lawyers at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison argue there is no evidence that the soldiers who reportedly injured the plaintiffs were the same guards assigned to protect gas fields and not among the thousands of other troops the Indonesian government deployed to the village of Aceh to restore order there. Exxon also disputes that it had control over the soldiers guarding Exxon facilities.
U.S. District Judge Louis Oberdorfer of the District of Columbia concluded a jury must decide whether to hold Exxon accountable for the alleged actions of the soldiers.
“Is the owner of a swimming pool insulated from liability per se for a lifeguard’s negligence simply because the lifeguard is required to be there? Surely not,” wrote Oberdorfer. “There would still be issues of negligence in hiring or supervision and of control—the exact issues disputed here.”
Eleven Aceh villagers, represented by Cohen, Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, filed the lawsuit in 2001 seeking unspecified damages. Oberdorfer previously ruled the case can be heard in the District due to Exxon’s extensive ties to the city. A trial date has not been set.