state actions in tort against the NAAA, the PCNA, or the PIO.
As to the PCNA, the NAAA, and the PIO, plaintiffs' allegations of tortious conduct and conspiracy are clearly insubstantial. The complaints allege that those three organizations raised funds to support the attack on the plaintiffs, but there are no specific allegations whatsoever to support a claim of conspiracy. Moreover, plaintiffs' statement as to the events which occurred in the United States, see, e.g., Civil Action No. 81-0563, Complaint at P 49, is vague and conclusory. The averments as to the responsibility of the defendants similarly rest on conclusory suggestions that the NAAA, the PCNA, and the PIO acted in furtherance of the conspiracy to arm the plaintiffs. See id. at PP 52-54.
These three defendants have not been connected to the claimed torts sufficiently to permit the action to proceed against them. Various courts have considered complaints such as the instant one and held that vague, conclusory allegations of conspiracy are insufficient to predicate an action for damages. See Heart Disease Research Foundation v. General Motors Corp., 463 F.2d 98, 100 (2d Cir. 1972); Granville v. Hunt, 411 F.2d 9, 11 (5th Cir. 1969); Connor v. Real Title Corp., 165 F.2d 291, 294 (4th Cir. 1947). Simply put, plaintiffs have not satisfied the requirement of § 1350 that a tort be stated in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States against the NAAA, the PCNA, or the PIO.
As to all defendants, however, the complaint must be dismissed because there is no jurisdiction under § 1350. That statute serves merely as an entrance into the federal courts and in no way provides a cause of action to any plaintiff. Somewhere in the law of nations or in the treaties of the United States, the plaintiffs must discern and plead a cause of action that, if proved, would permit the Court to grant relief. The plaintiffs cite no cause of action given to them by the law of nations or by treaties of the United States. Just as discussed under § 1331, an action predicated on a treaty or on more general norms of international law must have at its basis a specific right to a private claim.
Plaintiffs have demonstrated no such entitlement. "To interpret international human rights law to create a federal private right of action overstates the level of agreement among nations on remedies for human rights violation." Note, Torture as a Tort in Violation of International Law: Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 33 Stan.L.Rev. 353, 357 (1981). Indeed, it is significant that the provision of private rights of action in recent international conventions has stalled efforts in the United States Senate to gain ratification. See Blum & Steinhardt, Federal Jurisdiction over International Human Rights Claims: The Alien Tort Claims Act after Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 22 Harv.Intl.L.J. 53, 71-72 n. 82 (1981); Note, supra, at 359 ("In the United States, for example, an international agreement banning genocide has gone unratified chiefly because the Senate did not want to expose American citizens to suits in foreign countries.") In short, unless treaties to which the United States is a party or even the law of nations generally provide a private right of action, no jurisdictional grant, be it § 1331 or § 1350, can aid a plaintiff seeking relief in federal district court.
The absence of an individual enforcement mechanism in this area does not subject a complaint to dismissal merely for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). That inquiry would be limited to a determination whether plaintiffs' complaint, if proved, would meet the requirements of traditionally defined civil actions. Rather, because "(t)he reference (in § 1350) to the law of nations must be narrowly read if the section is to be kept within the confines of Article III," IIT v. Vencap, Ltd., 519 F.2d 1001, 1015 (2d Cir. 1975) (Friendly, J.), it follows that it is a jurisdictional prerequisite to § 1350 that a complaint not only plead a private right of action but that the subsequent motions support this allegation. Otherwise, federal courts would clutch power over cases, under the guise of the law of nations, undoubtedly casting effect on international relations and foreign policy when no country, friend or foe, has consented to an American court opening its door to one alleging violations of international legal principles. In the end, of course, it behooves the court to discern promptly in cases such as the instant whether international law has expressly or impliedly entrusted individuals with the authority to enforce its precepts. Because that determination may ultimately cloak a court with potent authority over a foreign land, the query is jurisdictional, not merely a demurrer to the plaintiffs' complaint. Absent the clear indication, not present here, that nations intend to subject themselves to such worldwide jurisprudential assaults, jurisdiction under § 1350 will not vest.
The NAAA raises a wholly separate and distinct issue from its jurisdictional attack with its contention that the actions are barred by the statute of limitations. The defendant maintains that the torts alleged by plaintiffs, under whatever label might be given to them, are intentional torts like those in D.C.Code 12-301(4), for which a one year limitation period is provided. Plaintiffs assert that the torts they allege fall under the residual limitation period provided by D.C.Code 12-301(8) of three years, and that the application of the one year period would suppress federal policies and values underlying international law.
Unless a limitation is specifically provided by federal statute or treaty, a federal court must look to the limitations period of the district in which it sits and apply the most analogous statute. Steorts v. American Airlines, Inc., 207 U.S. App. D.C. 369, 647 F.2d 194 (D.C.Cir.1981). Count I of the complaint asserts torts of "assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and/or intentional infliction of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." Complaint, Civil Action No. 81-0563 P 64; Complaint, Civil Action No. 81-0564 P 71. Unquestionably, the torts of assault, battery, and false imprisonment are barred by the one year statute of limitations, D.C.Code 12-301(4). The question arises whether the other allegations are much like those torts enumerated in § 12-301(4) or whether they are different enough to justify the application of the three year period in § 12-301(8).
It is well accepted that the "label which a plaintiff applies to a pleading does not determine the nature of the cause of action which he states." Aktiebolaget Bofors v. United States, 90 U.S. App. D.C. 92, 194 F.2d 145, 148 (D.C.Cir.1951). See also Johnson v. United States, 178 U.S. App. D.C. 391, 547 F.2d 688 (D.C.Cir.1976); Universal Airline v. Eastern Air Lines, 88 U.S. App. D.C. 219, 188 F.2d 993 (D.C.Cir.1951) ("the statute of limitations ... cannot be evaded by referring to (a) cause of action in some other terms." Id. at 996). Clearly, the torts alleged in Count I are dependents of the same personal interests infringed by the intentional torts that would be subject in the District of Columbia to the one year limitation period. Plaintiffs' contention that the one year period is unreasonably short, stultifying important federal and international policies, is unsupported especially in consideration that no causes of action are provided in the cited treaties or in the body of international law generally.
As to Counts II-V, alleging various torts claimed to be defined by international law, the same analysis would apply. Substantively, they are no different from the claims in Count I; they simply attempt to state a cause of action under different sources, e.g., treaties, federal common law, and the law of nations. Plaintiffs' contention that the NAAA fraudulently concealed facts about the cause of action, justifying the tolling of the limitations period, has no basis in the complaint and has not been pleaded specifically. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b).
As these actions are now dismissed, no inference, implication, or comment is to be drawn about this Court's view of the merits.
Rather, the dismissals represent findings that when the Framers crafted Article III and when the first Congress considered jurisdictional grants to the federal courts, they did not contemplate the use of the federal courts as a substitute for an international tribunal, adjudicating claims arising under international law, when no private right of action was provided.
Accordingly, it is this 30th day of June, 1981
ORDERED, that these actions are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and because they are barred by the statute of limitations.