US Supreme Court declines to consider Coca-Cola's request to halt lawsuit by three Egyptian Jews

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WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider a request by Coca-Cola Co. to halt a lawsuit brought against it by three Egyptian citizens living in Canada.

The court s decision lets stand a ruling by an appeals court that allows the lawsuit to proceed.

According to court filings in the case, the Bigio family moved to Canada after the Egyptian government expropriated their commercial property holdings in 1962. The Bigios have said the property was taken because they are Jewish.

Coca-Cola subsidiaries purchased a minority stake in an Egyptian bottler in 1994 that leases the Bigios property, the company said in court filings. The Bigios sued Coke in 1997, seeking damages for trespass against their property.

A federal district court dismissed the case, ruling that the Bigios claims should be litigated in Egypt.

But the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Bigios are unable to obtain relief through the Egyptian courts. The Egyptian government has since ordered the Bigios property to be returned, but the state-owned Egyptian bottling company has refused to comply, the appeals court said. The Bigios also argue that it is not safe for them to litigate the issue in Egypt.

It was perfectly reasonable under these circumstances for the plaintiffs to bring their action against Coca-Cola, the only US company involved, in the United States, the appeals court said.

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