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FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2007

Judge dismisses wrongful death claims against Drummond Co.

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed wrongful death claims brought against Drummond Co. by the families of three union leaders at the coal company’s huge mine in Colombia whose killings allegedly were linked to Drummond.

U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre ruled that her court lacks jurisdiction over claims arising from Colombia’s wrongful death laws.

The ruling, issued last week, narrows the case against Alabama-based Drummond to a war crimes claim covered by the Alien Tort Statute, a seldom-used law that allows lawsuits in U.S. courts over actions that occur outside the country.

The trial is scheduled to begin July 9.

The judge has not yet ruled on what standard of proof will be required on the war crimes claim.

The suit alleges that paramilitaries shot the union leaders to death in 2001 at the direction of Drummond, which operates a 25,000-acre surface mine in northern Colombia.

Drummond, a family-owned company that shifted most of its mining operations to Colombia as its Alabama mines closed, has denied any connection to the killings.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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