US Court reinstates Bhopal Union Carbide case

International Reporter, November 5, 2008
Interview: Charan Lal Sahu, Adv. Supreme Court.
There was a gas leak case in Bhopal from Union Carbide in 1984. On the night of 2-3 December 1984, a Union Carbide Pesticide Plant in Bhopal emitted tones of poisonous methyl isocyanine gas, killing around 3,000 persons instantly and many more died later on.
It was one of the worst industrial disasters in the world or according to the Advocates who dealt with this case and went to America to settle the claims would naturally throw more light on the same case, which the New York Court has reinstated concerning Bhopal gas victims.
Mr. Charan Lal Sahu, you were one of the leading Advocates in the case of Union Carbide and went to America regarding settlement of the claims of those victims.
What’s this case and why it is reinstated in US Court after a long time?
Mr. Sahu said:
Basing on agency reports and the releases of IANS, and also being the old Advocate connected with this case and further keeping in mind the proceeding of the present case in New York Court, I can briefly say that SA group of people living in the nearby area of the Pesticide Plant in Bhopal, filed a lawsuit in 2004.
The claimants have pleaded that they have suffered serious health problems due to contamination of soil and water in the area by the leakage of toxic gas from the plant run by Union Carbide.
The case was dismissed by the lower court in 2006 and 2007 but the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan) on Monday said that the lower courts did not give the plaintiff enough notice to respond to Union Carbides bid to dismiss the case.
The Hon.’ble court took a view that the case is closed. But the US Circuit Judge Robert D,.Sack said,”
“But we think there is a reasonable likelihood that, in light of the peculiarly difficult procedural history of this and related litigation, the plaintiffs were not aware they were in danger of an adverse grant of summary judgment based on the submissions prior to the district courts order converting the motion and then deciding it.”
So far I know, H. Rajan Sharma, the attorney representing the Bhopal gas victims, is working on the case. In my opinion, the judgment would enable them to conduct a detailed study on the role of Union Carbide in the contamination of groundwater in Bhopal.
Mr. Sahu, what’s the lawsuit seeking relief?
The lawsuit is seeking clean up, monitoring, and damages for personal injury caused to about 20,000 individuals along with property damages. The company, now owned by Dow Chemicals, had paid a compensation of $470 million (Rs 2,243 crore) in 1989.
Mr. Sahu, what’s the reaction of Union Carbide?
Answer by Mr. Sahu: Union Carbide claimed on Monday in a statement that the judgment should not be interpreted as a ruling on the merits of the case and said the claims would be ultimately dismissed.
“The Second Circuit did not discuss the merits of the case or the merits of the trial judges ruling of dismissal and its decision should not be interpreted as a ruling on the merits,” the statement said.

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