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Judge Who Dismissed Big Tech Child Labour Suit Profited From Decision

A Trump-appointed federal judge who purchased bond holdings in a number of big tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Tesla, then dismissed a child-trafficking and forced labour suit against them, is arguing he didn’t have a clear conflict of interest.

Carl J. Nichols, who was appointed to the US District Court in 2019 by President Donald Trump, already held between $265,00 and $550,000 stock in Vanguard Growth, a fund heavily weighted by shares in the aforementioned companies, and purchased more during the hearings.

His holdings in the aforementioned four tech companies totalled between $90,000 and $192,000.

Nichols stated in a recent legal filing that his holdings are bonds, not stocks, and therefore he wasn’t required to recuse himself from the hearings.

A bond holding does not “convey an ownership interest in the issuer,” and therefore doesn’t “give rise to a financial interest in the debtor.”

The case against the big tech companies was brought on behalf of children injured or killed in artisanal cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The plaintiffs were working in mines that sourced battery minerals for various mining companies, who then on-sold the materials to five tech companies, including Dell.

Nichols dismissed the claim, saying the plaintiffs failed to establish the connection between the workers, and the big tech companies that end up selling the batteries.

“It was a perfect storm,” says human rights lawyer Terrence Collingsworth, who brought the case.

“A Trump appointee who had been in corporate law for years and had investments in the companies we had sued.”

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