Federal class action lawsuit against Union Carbide: Warren Anderson, former CEO and accused No. 1 in the criminal case in India has been declared "a proclaimed absconder" for failure to appear. Non-bailable arrest warrants for his capture have been issued to Interpol, He has also absconded from the civil proceedings in the U.S.
Union Carbide shields former chairman Anderson
The Asian Age http://www.asianage.com/asianage/29052000/detind07.htm San Francisco, May 28, 2000
Warren Anderson, chairman of Union Carbide at the time of the Bhopal gas disaster in December 1984 and prime accused in the criminal case filed in an Indian court, may have finally responded to a civil suit naming him and Union Carbide but he continues to remain a proclaimed absconder due to his failure to appear in hearings in a criminal case filed in India.
The Indian government, following criminal proceedings against Mr Anderson and Union Carbide, has also issued an arrest warrant for him and informed Interpol that he is a fugitive.
Attorneys, acting on behalf of Mr Anderson, recently accepted service in a civil suit filed in the United States district court for the southern district of New York. The suit charges the company with violating international law and fundamental human rights of the victims and survivors of the Bhopal tragedy. It states, 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.
William Heck, an attorney with Kelley, Drye and Warren, the law firm representing Union Carbide Corporation, refused to confirm whether or not his firm had accepted service on behalf of Mr Anderson in this civil suit. Mr Heck said he was not prepared to answer questions related to his firms personal business with its clients.
Tomm Sprick, manager communications at Union Carbide, did, however, readily acknowledge that service had been accepted in the civil case. As regards the criminal case in India, Mr Sprick said the courts in India were taking testimonies periodically. As opposed to the way things function in the US the Indian courts dont meet regularly to discuss the case, he said.
Raj Sharma, a practicing attorney with Goodkind, Labaton, Rudoff & Sucharow, a New York-based law firm involved in the case, on the other hand explained that the case hadnt moved significantly in India largely due to Union Carbides failure to appear.
Asked what had prompted Union Carbides attorneys to accept service in the civil case in New York even as they continue to dodge cases pending against the company in India, Mr Sprick said this case had been transferred from India and rather than play it out, the company felt it would be better to tackle it head on.
Quizzed further on whether Union Carbide would follow a similar line of action in the criminal cases pending in Indian courts rather than shielding Mr Anderson, Mr Sprick preferred not to comment. The company argues that it is not required to provide further compensation to victims of the disaster after a 1989 settlement for $470 million in a civil case brought by the Indian government.
The settlement with the government of India in 1989 of all claims arising from the Bhopal tragedy did not just cover Union Carbide, it covered all directors, officers and employees, including Warren Anderson, Sean Clancy, spokesman at Union Carbides corporate headquarters in Danbury, Connecticut, was quoted as saying in a New York Times report in March this year. Based on that settlement, we see no reason to encourage any disturbance of Mr Anderson, who retired as chairman 12 years ago, he added.
The chief judicial magistrate, Bhopal, had proclaimed Warren Anderson and Union Carbide Corporation absconders and proclamations against these two prime accused were published in the Washington Post in 1992. Both ignored the proclamations. Mr Anderson, who retired from Union Carbide in 1989, now lives in Florida.
Mr Anderson is still a fugitive in the US as he is evading criminal prosecution for which he signed a bail bond of Rs 25,000. Somewhere down the line he will have to be produced for deposition, said Mr Sharma.
Defending Union Carbides decision not to accept service in criminal cases filed in India, Mr Sprick said: Since overwhelming evidence has shown that the gas leakage was the result of sabotage by an employee, the leakage was an incident which was unforeseen to everyone else at Union Carbide. We feel there is no point criminalising a case that was obviously the result of sabotage. We are now pushing for prompt settlement of claims so that the victims can be compensated.
Prompted for more details about the alleged saboteur, Mr Sprick said: We know who the employee is but it would do no service to identify the individual. We did tell the Central Bureau of Investigation all we knew and also gave them the evidence.
Mr Raj Sharma said while Union Carbide had for ages been claiming the disaster was the handiwork of a disgruntled employee he had not seen any reasonable defence of this theory. First they blamed a Sikh terrorist group, then they blamed the Indians for setting up a faulty plant and now they claim its sabotage by a disgruntled employee.
If it is indeed sabotage one would think Union Carbide would be keen to take any opportunity to clear its name, Mr Sharma said, adding that he could not really comment on the merits of this case.
David Romero, manager, litigation support, at the New York law offices of Curtis V. Trinko, which filed a suit challenging
the merger of Dow Chemical Company with Union Carbide, said that unlike Mr Anderson, a handful of Indian managers
who were working at the Union Carbide factory at the time of the disaster had appeared in an Indian court in connection with this case. They did the right thing by standing up as men while their former boss is now evading the law, he said.
The explosion took place during routine maintenance at the plant on the night of December 3, 1984. A storage tank containing 60 tonnes of methyl isocyanate filled with water, apparently from leaky valves and corroded pipes, set off a runaway reaction.
Corey Conn, coordinator of the International Alliance for Justice in Bhopal, felt that on the face of it the incident seemed like an accident but even the slightest investigation revealed the tragedy was the outcome of Union Carbides efforts to cut corners and costs.
They were carrying out key maintenance procedures at a less frequent basis. They cut off the power to the tower used to neutralise toxic gases. They also shut off the siren to avoid it going off constantly when minor accidents took place. All this was a recipe for disaster, Mr Conn said.
By Ashish Kumar Sen
The New York Times, 5th March 2000, page 4
A KEY FIGURE PROVES ELUSIVE IN A U.S. SUIT OVER BHOPAL
Warren M. Anderson, chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation during the 1984 chemical disaster at Bhopal, India, has apparently gone into hiding to avoid a summons to appear in a Manhattan federal court as part of civil proceedings against him and the company, say lawyers who have hired a private investigator to locate Mr. Anderson.
Several attempts to deliver a summons to Mr. Anderson's last known address in Florida have failed and the property appears to be vacant, the lawyers say. Union Carbide has declined to accept a summons on behalf of Mr. Anderson, or to disclose his present location, said Kenneth F. McCallion, a lawyer who initiated the civil case.
More than 3,000 people were killed and 200,000 others were injured in Bhopal on December 3, 1984, when 40 tons of vaporous methyl isocyanate, hydrogen cyanide, monomethyl amine, carbon monoxide and possibly 20 other chemicals were released from the Union Carbide pesticide plant after an explosion.
Many more have died since of gas-related illnesses. It ranks as one of the world's worst industrial accidents.
The company argues that it is not required to provide further compensation to victims
of the disaster after a 1989 settlement for $470 million in a civil case brought by the
"The settlement with the government of India in 1989 of all claims arising from the Bhopal tragedy did not just cover Union Carbide, it covered all directors, officers and employees, including Warren Anderson," said Sean Clancy, spokesman at Union Carbide's corporate headquarters in Danbury, Conn. "Based on that settlement, we see no reason to encourage any disturbance of Mr. Anderson, who retired as chairman 12 years ago."
Mr. Anderson, who retired in 1989, is listed as residing at 111 South Catalina Court in
Vero Beach, Fla. The Indian government, following criminal proceedings against him and the
company, has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Anderson and notified Interpol that he is a
fugitive. He is charged in India with "culpable homicide" - the legal equivalent
"We have had no luck in serving him at his residence in Florida," said Mr. McCallion. "Union Carbide has declined to assist or accept service on his behalf."
Union Carbide and Mr. Anderson, in absentia, are currently on trial as criminal defendants in India. Mr. Anderson and company officials in the United States have refused to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of Bhopal District Court, despite orders by the Indian Supreme Court to do so. A written decision by John Keenan, a United States District Court judge in Manhattan, also ruled that Union Carbide "shall consent to submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of India."
Nine senior Indian officials from the Bhopal subsidiary of Union Carbide are in custody for the trial under way in the Bhopal District Court.
Union Carbide contends that all personal injury and related claims were settled with payment to the Indian government. Over 95 percent of the claimants who received payments have been given about $600 in the case of injuries or about $3000 in the case of death. More than half the money has yet to be dispensed.
The lawsuit filed in New York charges the company with violating international law and fundamental human rights of the victims and survivors. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It states 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 explosion took place during routine maintenance at the plant. A storage tank containing 60 tons of methyl isocyanate filled with water, apparently from leaky valves and corroded pipes, setting off a runaway reaction. In past statements, Union Carbide blamed a "disgruntled employee."
The plaintiffs contend that the plant safety systems were either switched off, malfunctioning or under repair. The plaintiffs in New York include individual survivors as well as five victims' organizations. Mr. McCallion alleged in his complaint that the company "demonstrated a reckless and depraved indifference to human life in the design, operation and maintenance of the Union Carbide of India Ltd. facility."
Union Carbide, the victims' groups contend, has refused to provide information to medical workers in Bhopal where advocacy groups say an estimated 10 to 15 people continue to die every month from exposure related illnesses, on the composition of the leaked gases and their effects. The company argues that these are "trade secrets." The Bhopal Hospital Trust that treats victims was set up by Union Carbide as part of the settlement.
by Chris Hedges
Update on location of Warren Anderson (Union Carbide CEO)
Wed, 23 Feb 2000
Today our process servers did what's called a "nail and mail"
service - a New York state procedure which
constitutes a valid method of service of the summons and complaint when the federal procedure of personal, in-hand service fails. Essentially, this involves sending our process servers to drop the summons and complaint off at his doorstep (the "nail") and simultaneous mailing to all known residences (the "mail"). This constitutes valid service under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and will allow us to move for default judgment against Mr. Anderson at the appropriate time. Also, despite the delay, there will actually be a full article in the New York Times focusing on the issue of Mr. Anderson's continuing escape from justice. His last known addresses are:
929 Ocean Road
111 South Catalina Court
Vero Beach, Florida
A brief chronology:
Nov. 15, 1999 - Class action complaint is filed.
Nov. 18, 1999 - Effective service of process on Carbide is accomplished at their Danbury offices.
Nov. 21, 1999 - Process servers inform plaintiffs' counsel that Anderson's Long Island address is a vacant lot.
Nov. 25, 1999 - Process servers inform plaintiffs' counsel that service on the New York condo is not effective service since its only a mailing address.
Nov. 30, 1999 - Carbide's defense counsel, Kelley Drye & Warren, writes to Judge Keenan regarding briefing schedule in this case in a letter where it clearly claims to represent "defendants" (plural) indicating Carbide and Anderson.
Dec. 5, 1999 - Process servers inform us that Anderson's Vero Beach address is "windswept" and abandoned-looking; plus a neighbor tells them she "knows all about the lawsuit" but that Anderson has not been at this address "since last season" and "tends to keep a low profile."
Dec. 10, 1999 - Plaintiffs' counsel writes to Kelley Drye requesting that, since they claim to represent "defendants", will they accept authorized service of process for Warren Anderson?
Dec. 10, 1999 - Carbide's attorney, William A. Krohley, writes back as follows "neither I nor my office is authorized to accept service of the enclosed summons and complaint for Warren Anderson."
January 3, 2000 - Plaintiffs' counsel files amended class action complaint and, on phone with us, without confirming or denying that his firm represents Anderson, Krohley indicates that his firm will consider whether or not to accept service for him.
January 6, 2000 - Krohley writes another letter to Judge Keenan "to fix a new briefing schedule for Union Carbide's [singular] motion to dismiss."
January 7, 2000 - Plaintiffs' counsel writes to Krohley noting that his letter only mentions Carbide and demanding a response "as per our phone conversation" about whether or not Kelley Drye will accept service of process for Anderson.
January 13, 2000 - Mr. Krohley leaves us a voice mail indicating that they will not accept service for Anderson and that we should try to trace his present whereabouts "if you can." In closing, he says: "Good luck."