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Bhopal Gas Disaster Victims File Class Action Suit Against Union Carbide
Updated 1:33 PM ET November 15, 1999
NEW YORK, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal class action lawsuit was filed today charging Union Carbide Corporation and its former CEO, Warren Anderson, with having violated international law and the fundamental human rights of the victims and survivors of the Bhopal Gas Disaster in India on December 2, 1984.
According to Kenneth McCallion, lead counsel for the plaintiffs and a partner at Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow LLP, the complaint alleges that "Union Carbide demonstrated a reckless and depraved indifference to human life in the design, operation and maintenance of the Union Carbide of India Ltd. ("UCIL") facility which resulted in the devastating leak of massive amounts of methyl isocyanate ("MIC") into the city killing thousands and injuring many thousands of its residents." The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, pursuant to the Alien Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. 1350). The complaint also charges "that the defendants are liable for fraud and civil contempt for their total failure to comply with the lawful orders of the courts of both the United States and India."
The plaintiffs in the case include individual survivors as well as the victims' organizations in Bhopal that have been representing survivors and next-of-kin of victims for the past 15 years. According to Satinath Sarangi, founder of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA), a voluntary, non-governmental organization committed to grassroots advocacy on behalf of Bhopal victims, which is also a plaintiff in the action: "At least 6,000 people died immediately following the disaster, and tens of thousands continue to suffer from what amounts to the largest industrial disaster in history."
Several years of litigation in India resulted in a payment of $470 million by Union Carbide. The complaint asserts that the Indian Supreme Court in its judgment of October 1991 held that the criminal investigation and prosecution of Union Carbide should proceed and stated that failure to accomplish this would constitute "a manifest injustice." According to the complaint, although Union Carbide was a party to all of these proceedings it subsequently refused to comply with all efforts to obtain its appearance for trial by the Bhopal District Court and the efforts of Indian authorities to secure jurisdiction over Union Carbide have proved futile, including the service of summons on Union Carbide through the U.S. Department of Justice and INTERPOL
According to Rajan Sharma, another attorney at Goodkind Labaton, the complaint asserts that "notification for Union Carbide to appear for trial in India was published in the Washington Post," and that Union Carbide has been declared a "proclaimed absconder" by the Bhopal District Court.
Contact: Kenneth McCallion of Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow LLP, 212-907-0870
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