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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Civil Lawsuit in Melamine Milk Scandal Sees the Inside of a Chinese Courtroom, Well at Least a Judge

The New York Times reporter, Edward Wong, reported a few hours ago that a hearing began Friday (our Thursday) in the first civil suit to be heard in a Chinese court involving parents suing a dairy company and a supermarket over selling tainted milk.

In 2008 at least six children died and 300,000 were sickened from drinking melamine-tainted milk products. The melamine had been added by middlemen to make the dairy products falsely appear to meet nutritional protein standards.

Ma Xuexin, who said his 20-month-old son got a kidney stone from drinking tainted milk, filed a lawsuit seeking the equivalent of $8,080 (US) in compensation from the dairy company, the Sanlu Group, and Longhua, a supermarket chain based in Beijing.

Can you imagine what that number would be before a jury in a United State’s courtroom?

Perhaps the demand to the court was low by US standards, but the arguments of the defense lawyers sounded a bit familiar.  Sanlu and Longhua lawyers argued that a government fund (low compensation) was the family’s only recourse, and they also argued that there were no medical records linking the boy’s kidney problems to drinking tainted milk.  Arguing no damages and no causation, a US defense lawyer’s stock in trade. Who said that the Chinese court system is not paying attention to what is happening across the Pacific and a day behind?