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45 Lawsuits in Fukushima District Courts

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A group of plaintiffs walk in front of Fukushima District Court in October 2017. The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority will increase its number of legal staff from this spring to deal with lawsuits.
Japan’s nuclear regulator to hire more legal staff to respond to Fukushima-related lawsuits
 
Japan’s nuclear regulator will increase its number of legal staff from this spring to deal with lawsuits related to the Fukushima crisis, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
 
The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority will increase the number of staff at an office in charge of litigation to 22 in the fiscal year starting in April from the current 17. In fiscal 2012, when the body was launched, it only had five employees, the source said.
 
The secretariat said it was handling a total of 45 lawsuits as of March 1, of which 29 had been filed by over 10,000 plaintiffs nationwide including evacuees and victims of the Fukushima accident who are seeking damages from the state.
 
Among those 29 lawsuits, four of the five district courts that have already handed down rulings ordered the state to pay damages to the plaintiffs, rejecting the state’s claim that the accident “could not be foreseen.”
 
A lawyer representing the plaintiffs has criticized the expansion move, saying the state should not insist on fighting the lawsuits.
Izutaro Managi, a member of a lawyers’ group representing some 3,800 evacuees and accident victims in a lawsuit seeking damages from the state and the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said, “The aim of the authority’s secretariat is to strengthen the state’s claim that it is not liable for causing the accident.”
“The state should rather reflect on the accident and accept its responsibility,” he said.
 
In addition to lawsuits related to the Fukushima evacuees and victims, the secretariat is also handling lawsuits filed by residents seeking to halt operations at nuclear plants or the construction of new ones.
 
New lawsuits could also be filed in the future as more nuclear power plants clear safety assessments by the authority to resume operations. Currently, 14 reactors at seven nuclear power plants have passed screenings under stricter regulations imposed after the Fukushima crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
 
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March 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Sailors Fight to Keep Fukushima Radiation Case in US

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SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel on Thursday asked a federal judge not to transfer to Japan a class action by hundreds of U.S. sailors exposed to radiation in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
An initial group of sailors sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TepCo) and General Electric in 2012. A second class action from sailors sent to render aid after the earthquake and tsunami was filed in San Diego Federal Court last August.
The March 11, 2011 tsunami caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to shut down, but loss of circulation water coolant led to meltdowns and explosions whose radioactive releases may not be completely cleaned up for centuries.
More than 420 U.S. service members in the two cases seek compensation and medical monitoring, testing and health care costs for exposure to radiation. Some sailors have died from complications of radiation exposure since the cases were filed, and more than 20 are living with cancer, according to the lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino on Thursday considered motions to dismiss from TepCo and GE. They claim that California courts have no jurisdiction over events in Japan. Sammartino also considered a choice-of-law motion from General Electric, which wants to apply Japanese law to the case or have it transferred to Japan.
TepCo operated the Fukushima nuclear plant; GE designed its nuclear reactors.
TepCo attorney Gregory Stone, with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, said all claims brought in the United States could be brought in Japan and that the statute of limitations has not run out in Japan’s court system.
GE attorney Michael Schissel, with Arnold & Porter in New York, said the case belongs in Japan, where the facts originated and the witnesses are. Schissel said the Japanese government declared the nuclear meltdown was not a natural disaster, so TepCo could be held liable for damages.
But Edwards, whose firm Edwards Kirby is based in North Carolina, said it’s important to look at the situation “from altitude,” to see things from the sailors’ perspective.
“These are American sailors, American employees serving their country, who were sent on American ships on international waters at the request of the Japanese government … their ally, which owns the majority of stock in defendant TepCo,” Edwards said.
“Being on an American ship in international waters puts you on American soil.”
Edwards said that since the vast majority of the sailor-plaintiffs were stationed in San Diego and GE designed the nuclear reactors at its San Jose headquarters, the case belongs in California.
“They want the case in Japan because they know it goes away; that’s clearly their strategy,” Edwards said.
He added: “This case screams federal jurisdiction; this case screams United States of America. The underlying concept of this whole thing is fundamental and basic notions of fairness being met.”
Edwards’ co-counsel Charles Bonner, with Bonner & Bonner in Sausalito, said if the case were transferred to Japan, where GE could be dismissed as a defendant, GE could “continue building their defective reactors with impunity.”
Bonner added that California has a vested interest in applying its own laws, including strict liability for defective products, and punitive damages to deter companies from selling defective products. He pointed out that one-sixth of the U.S. Navy is based in San Diego, with 69 Navy ships in San Diego Harbor.
“(Japan’s) compensation act has not been applied to their own citizens, only businesses. Why should we speculate their compensation act will help our sailors? It will not,” Bonner said.
Stone countered that Bonner was “simply wrong” in claiming that the Japanese nuclear damage compensation act had not benefited individual Japanese citizens. He said it is the conduct of defendants TepCo and GE – which occurred in Japan – and not the plaintiffs’ place of residence that should determine jurisdiction over the case.
Sammartino indicated she will want further briefing from the attorneys before ruling on the motion to dismiss.

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment