LEGAL UPDATE as of December 1, 2000

Seven individuals and five organizations, including the BGIA, filed a class action suit on November 15, 1999 in the Federal District Court of New York against Union Carbide Corporation and its former Chairman Warren Anderson. The suit charged the Corporation and the official with grave violations of international law and human rights arising from their "reckless and depraved indifference to human life" in perpetrating the disaster. In the context of Union Carbide and Anderson absconding justice in Indian courts the suit invoked the Alien Tort Claims Act, a US law that permits foreigners to bring claims against a US private company committing gross violations of human rights. The case is being represented by the New York based law firm Goodkind, Labaton, Rudoff and Sucharow reputed for their success in cases of large public interest.

Achievements of the legal action
Within few months of initiating this legal action the following were achieved:

1. For the first time the US courts and international press had to realize that Union Carbide and Anderson are indeed absconding from the criminal case in India instituted by the Government of India.

2. Through this legal initiative Mr Anderson, a proclaimed absconder for the last eight years, was forced to submit himself to the judicial process albeit in the US courts.

3. Through this case Union Carbide’s continuing refusal to provide any scientific information on the leaked gases has also been presented to the US courts and world press for the first time.

4. The issue of the ongoing toxic exposure from contamination of soil and water around the factory site has been raised as another separate grounds for damages and relief of an environmental clean-up.

Decision on the suit and further action
On August 28, 2000 Judge Mr. John F. Keenan dismissed the suit mainly on the ground that the Bhopal Act [Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985] prevented individuals or organizations outside the Government of India from bringing an action against Union Carbide or its official. Quite clearly this interpretation of the Bhopal Act is incorrect as a matter of law based on the Indian Supreme Court's authoritative interpretation of the Act. Further it is contrary to international law as well as the public policy of the United States and India. In view of the travesty of justice in the wrongful dismissal of the case we filed an appeal before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. We have recently received the following scheduling order from Staff Counsel at the Court of Appeals:

Wed Nov. 29, 2000, 10:30am - Telephonic pre-argument conference between counsel

On or before Dec. 13, 2000 - Index to the record on appeal, docket entries and clerk's certificate

Dec. 20, 2000 - Appellant's (Plaintiffs) brief and joint appendix to be filed

January 19, 2001 - Appellee's brief (defendants) must be filed

March 5, 2001 - Oral argument on the appeal will be heard