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Federal appeals court dismisses case against GE over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Federal appeals court dismisses case against GE over Fukushima nuclear disaster, Jurist

APRIL 28, 2020 Andrew Hursh

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit by numerous Japanese individuals and business who hoped to sue General Electric (GE) over its role in building and maintaining the reactors that exploded in the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

The Japanese plaintiffs had sued the company in federal court in Massachusetts, and they contended that this was the appropriate forum because Japanese laws that governed liability for the disaster precluded them from recovering damages from GE if they sued in Japan. The district court, however, dismissed the case last April on the grounds of “forum non conveniens,” holding that Japan, not US federal court, is the adequate forum for the plaintiffs to recover for their losses. The plaintiffs appealed and argued in the First Circuit that the district court incorrectly assessed the adequacy of their legal relief in Japan, but the appeals court disagreed, stating on Friday that they agreed with the lower court and, on a couple of points, that they “have little difficulty concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.”

Compensation for the Fukushima disaster in Japan is covered by a 1961 law addressing nuclear damages—the Compensation Act. The Compensation Act creates a complex scheme with several ways for injured parties to recover, and it ultimately places all liability for Fukushima in the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that operated the plant. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against GE, as well as millions of others, had recovered money from TEPCO in Japan through lawsuits, claims directly to the company, and mediated processes. But the plaintiffs in this case also wanted to recover money from GE, which had built, designed or maintained all the reactors at Fukushima, and, according to the plaintiffs, were responsible for some of what went wrong there during the tsunami in 2011. The plaintiffs sued in Massachusetts because GE is headquartered there.

GE argued, however, that the case should be dismissed because an adequate forum exists in Japan and that practical considerations favor litigating there. GE noted that it was available to be served process in Japan and subject to jurisdiction there. …..

April 30, 2020 - Posted by | Legal, USA

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