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Home   »  Learn More  »  The World Reacts  »  Rachel Corrie's family appeals ...

Rachel Corrie's family appeals lawsuit against bulldozer-maker

by Gene JohnsonsSeattle Post-Intelligencer
March 23rd, 2006

SEATTLE -- The parents of a 23-year-old who was killed trying to prevent the demolition of an occupied Palestinian home have appealed a judge's decision to dismiss their lawsuit against Caterpiller Inc., the company that made the bulldozer that ran over her.

"He applied the wrong legal standard and ignored the facts," said Maria LaHood, a lawyer with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

Rachel Corrie was killed three years ago by an Israeli soldier driving a bulldozer. She was trying to stop him from demolishing a Gaza Strip home while the family was inside; though witnesses said she was clearly visible, the army claimed he didn't see her.

Her parents sued Caterpiller on the grounds that for years, the company has provided bulldozers to the Israeli army, knowing they would be used to destroy civilian homes in violation of international law. They were joined in the lawsuit by five Palestinians who say their relatives were killed or injured by Israeli-driven bulldozers.

"This has been a challenging time for our family, since we just marked the three-year anniversary of Rachel's death without justice," said her mother, Cindy Corrie. "Caterpillar chooses to support these illegal activities with continuing sales and service of its equipment. It must be held accountable for its role in human rights violations, both past and present."

In November, U.S. District Judge Franklin Burgess in Tacoma threw out the lawsuit, agreeing with Caterpiller that it wasn't responsible for what the Israeli army did with its legally sold product.


"Selling products to a foreign government does not make the seller a participant in that governments alleged international law violations," Burgess wrote.

In the appeal, filed Monday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Corries' lawyers argue that the judge missed the point.

"This case doesn't allege Caterpiller should be liable just because they were doing business with the Israelis," LaHood said. "It argues that because they knew the D9 and D10 bulldozers would be used to demolish homes in violation of international law, they are liable."

Caterpiller lawyer James Magee said, "Obviously, Caterpiller believes the ruling was correct," but declined to comment further because he had not reviewed the appeal carefully.

The Peoria, Ill.-based company has declined to discuss the lawsuit but issued the following statement last year: "Caterpillar shares the world's concern over unrest in the Middle East and we certainly have compassion for all those affected by political strife. However, more than 2 million Caterpillar machines and engines are at work in virtually every region of the world each day. We have neither the legal right nor the means to police individual use of that equipment."

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