A U.S. federal court Monday dismissed a human rights lawsuit brought against Occidental Petroleum that alleged the Houston-based company helped fund Colombian military activities that left three labor union leaders dead.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision to throw out the case.

The suit was filed in California by family members of the three labor union leaders who were allegedly killed by the 18th Brigade of the Colombian National Army, Reuters said.

The plaintiffs claimed Occidental, the operator of a Colombian pipeline that runs near the Venezuelan border, provided funding to the troops, making the company responsible for the brigade’s actions under both federal and California law.

According to the ruling, Occidental and Colombia’s Ecopetrol gave the army a combined $6.3 million to help offset the cost of security following a series of guerrilla attacks against Occidental’s pipeline.

After the incident, Colombian officials said only guerrilla militants who had attacked the army soldiers were killed.

The family members of the three men alleged they were killed because they had criticized the oil industry.

The appeals court said it couldn’t hear the case because it centers around a political question and noted the U.S. government had also provided about $99 million in training and equipment to the 18th Brigade, Reuters said


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