Apartheid abuse cases against Ford, IBM go ahead

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Ford, IBM focus of allegations of abuse under apartheid.

A federal judge in New York has given new life to lawsuits that seek to hold IBM and Ford liable for apartheid abuses carried out by South Africa's government.

Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan declined to toss out three decade-old lawsuits brought against the IBM Corp. and the Ford Motor Co. that accuse them of supporting apartheid by letting their subsidiaries sell computers and cars to the South African government.

The lawsuits seek to hold IBM and Ford responsible for race-based injustices including murder.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on the legal reach of the statute under which the plaintiffs are suing. Scheindlin's ruling allows plaintiffs to file amended complaints that fit within that reach.

Emails seeking comment from Armonk-based IBM and Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford haven't been answered.