Court: Slave descendants cannot seek reparations from companies

12/14/2006, 7:14 a.m. CT
The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected most claims by slave descendants that they deserve reparations from some of the nation’s biggest companies.

The three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that slave descendants have no standing to sue for reparations based on injustices suffered by ancestors. The ruling also says the statute of limitations ran out more than a century ago.

But the panel did keep alive a smaller portion of the suit, claiming that major U.S. corporations may be guilty of consumer fraud if they hid past ties to slavery from their customers.

The lawsuit was a consolidation of 10 suits filed around the country and moved to Chicago. Slave descendants claim big American corporations profited from slavery and should pay. It says the companies insured and transported slaves and made loans to slaveholders so they could buy slaves.

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