Rick Herz, Earthrights International, November 4, 2008
Read the full decision here (pdf).
On November 3, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated plaintiffs’ claims against Union Carbide Corporation for ongoing, massive water pollution at its infamous plant in Bhopal, India, reversing a lower court’s dismissal of the case. A poisonous gas leak from this same plant killed thousands of people in 1984.
After the 1984 disaster, Union Carbide fled India, leaving vast amounts of untreated toxins at the plant site that have contaminated the drinking water supply of nearby residents. Plaintiffs sued to force Union Carbide to clean up its mess and compensate those injured. The district court decided on its own to evaluate defendants’ evidence at an early stage of the case, and dismissed. The Second Circuit reversed that decision, finding the dismissal to be improper because the district court did not give the plaintiffs adequate opportunity to respond to the factual argument the district court raised on its own. The Court of Appeals did not need to reach plaintiffs’ argument that the evidence already in the case is more than sufficient to permit plaintiffs to present their case to a jury.
EarthRights International serves as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in this case.
Read a brief history of the US lawsuit here.