The Wall Street Journal reported a few moments ago that the parents of a 1-year-old boy sickened by tainted milk powder filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, Sanlu, in what appears to be the first challenge to official efforts to keep the scandal out of China’s courts. The suit was filed last week against dairy company Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co., but has yet to be accepted by the court. As is common in China, the filing isn’t publicly available.
The family’s attorneys, Zhang Xingkuan and Ji Cheng of Beijing’s Deheng Law Office, declined to disclose the names of their clients. Mr. Zhang said they are seeking compensation of 150,000 yuan ($21,900) to cover hospital fees, travel expenses, time off from work and other costs. The attorney said that the parents claim the boy developed kidney stones from drinking Sanlu, and that they had more than 90 empty bags of Sanlu milk powder their son had consumed as proof.
The Sanlu lawsuit comes as some lawyers who offered to assist families of sickened children report being pressured to stay away from the issue. Beijing lawyer Li Fangping (who I met with last Saturday), who organized a group of over 120 volunteer lawyers around China to provide free legal advice to families affected by tainted milk, said he has received numerous calls from lawyers in the volunteer network who said they are facing pressure from local officials to refrain from getting involved. For more interviews with Mr. Li Fangping see: