Alabama-based coal company Drummond on Friday denied claims made in a lawsuit
that it funded a paramilitary group allegedly responsible for dozens of
killings in Colombia, where the firm operates a large mine and railroad.
A statement released by the Drummond Company Inc. said the violence
has plagued Colombia for decades and Drummond has no connection to it.
lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Birmingham, claims a
right-wing paramilitary group received millions of dollars in payments
from Drummond operatives to allegedly carry out a reign of terror to
protect the company’s coal mine and railroad.
Defendants in the suit include Drummond Ltd., the firm’s Colombian arm.
Ltd. and Drummond Company Inc. deny the allegations of this latest
lawsuit, and repeat that the policy of the companies is and always has
been not to provide support to any outlaw groups in Colombia including
paramilitaries,” said the statement from the Birmingham-based company.
suit said 67 union members, farmworkers and others were victims of the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a rightwing paramilitary group
also known by its Spanish initials AUC. The suit seeks unspecified
financial damages and other relief.
The lawsuit is much broader than one filed in March by the children of three slain Colombian union leaders against Drummond.
A similar lawsuit ended in 2007 with a verdict for Drummond. The verdict was upheld by a federal appeals court in December.
officials mentioned the 2007 verdict in Friday’s statement, which said
the arguments made in the latest lawsuit were rejected by “an Alabama
jury in a judgment that was affirmed by the United States Court of
The plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit include hundreds
of parents, children and siblings of people allegedly killed by AUC,
mostly in Colombia’s Cesar and Magdalena provinces. The suit, like the
earlier ones, was filed under the more than 200-year-old Alien Torts
Claims Act, which allows foreigners to file suit in U.S. courts for
alleged wrongdoing overseas. (AP)