China court accepts first lawsuit over melamine tainted milk
www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-25 19:48:03   Print

    SHIJIAZHUANG, March 25 (Xinhua) -- A court in north China's Hebei Province officially accepted a compensation lawsuit filed bythe family of a child who became sick after consuming tainted baby formula.

    The Xinhua District Court in Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital, accepted the lawsuit Wednesday. It was filed by an un-named parent from Beijing, confirmed Wang Wei, spokesman with the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court.

    It is the first such lawsuit accepted by a Chinese court.

    Lawyer Peng Jian said his plaintiff demanded a compensation of 31,000 yuan (4,538 U.S. dollars) from Sanlu Group, a Shijiazhuang-based company that was at the center of the melamine-tainted milk scandal.

    Peng said the court issued him a case reception document after paying a lawsuit fee of 575 yuan.

    Wang Zhengwen, a Xinhua District Court presiding judge, declined to give details about the case when reached by Xinhua.

    At least six infants died and almost 300,000 became ill across the country after consuming dairy products tainted with the industry chemical- melamine.

    In an open letter published in December, Sanlu and 21 other dairy companies offered 200,000 yuan (29,000 U.S. dollars) to families whose children died, and 30,000 yuan for serious illnesses such as kidney stones and acute kidney failure. 2,000 yuan was offered for victims in less severe cases.

    According to the China Dairy Industry Association, as of Jan. 22 about 90 percent of victims had been compensated. No updated figure was available.

    Peng is also representing parents of five other children who are pursuing lawsuits - two from Beijing, one from central Henan Province, one from Inner Mongolia and one from Shanxi Province.

    The children, aged one to four, all consumed melamine-tainted baby formula produced by Sanlu Group. The Henan victim - a one-year-old girl, died in June last year. Her parents are demanding 388,000 yuan in compensation. The parents of a two-year-old victim from Beijing asked for 437,840 yuan in compensation.

    Their cases have not yet been accepted by courts.

    Beijing-based Sanyuan Group, the only major dairy producer not involved in the scandal, bid 616.5 million yuan (90 million U.S. dollars) to buy Sanlu's core assets on March 4.

    Another auction to dispose of Sanlu's assets, mainly its shares in four dairy plants as well as 169 of its protected trademarks and 12 patent rights, will be held on April 7 in Shijiazhuang.

    Two men were sentenced to death on Jan. 22 for their roles in the scandal. They were Zhang Yujun, who produced 770 tonnes of melamine-laced "protein powder" and Geng Jinping, who sold more than 900 tonnes of tainted milk to Sanlu.

    Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman of Sanlu Group, got life in prison for her role in the scandal.

Editor: Fang Yang
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