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Last updated 5:01AM ET
March 5, 2021
Jury Clears Drummond in Union Deaths
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A federal jury in Birmingham Thursday rejected claims that Alabama-based Drummond coal was to blame for the killing of three union leaders in Colombia.

The verdict was viewed as a defeat for labor in a test of whether companies can be held responsible in U.S. courtrooms for their conduct overseas.

Jurors sided with Drummond Limited and the head of its Colombian operations, Augusto Jimenez, in ruling against a lawsuit filed by relatives and the union of the dead men, killed by paramilitary gunmen six years ago.

The jury began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon following two weeks of testimony in the civil lawsuit.

Relatives of the dead men and their union filed suit accusing Drummond of arranging the killing of the labor leaders by paramilitary forces in Colombia in 2001.

The company denied any involvement with the slayings or with militia forces in the South American nation, where it operates a huge surface mine.

Legal observers said the suit was the first to go to trial against a U.S. corporation under the Alien Tort Claims Act, enacted in 1798. It lets foreigners file suit in federal court for alleged wrongdoing overseas.

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