Frank A. Russo


Dr. Joel Filartiga and his daughter Dolly Filartiga, citizens of Paraguay living in the United States,' brought a civil action in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Americo Norbeto Pena-Irala (Pena), also a citizen of Paraguay, for wrongfully causing the death of Dr. Filartiga's son, Joelito, in Paraguay in 1976. Although none of the parties were citizens of the United States and the alleged tort occurred in Paraguay, the Filartigas contended that the court's subject matter jurisdiction was properly based upon the Alien Tort Statute. While the Filartiga decision is bound to have broad-ranged consequences, it does not open the "floodgates." The court here was faced with a clear mandate from the facts to find jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute in face of the Filartigas' claim of state sanctioned torture.