Two industrial disasters have brought two different outcomes in the US courts.
First, let us review the Clean Water Act lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice and others against British Petroleum (BP) for liabilities in the explosion of Deepwater Horizon and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
Contrast this decision on the lawsuit filed by EarthRights International in the U.S. District Court against Union Carbide Corporation(US) for the Bhopal (India) Gas Tragedy. Federal Judge John Keenan dismissed the case.
In granting the motion to dismiss, Justice Keenan argued that the local company Union Carbide of India Ltd (UCIL) was company responsible for the Bhopal tragedy of methyl isocynite gas leak out of the factory, immediately killing 3,000 people and injuring thousands of others. The judge ruled that Union Carbide Corporation (US) – the host corporation – was not responsible in any manner, though the project manager L.J. Couvaras had produced an affidavit that he was an employee of UCC (US).
So, we have two similar situations but two very different adjudications. This is at the least gnawing.
Both British Petroleum and the EarthRights are likely to appeal, and it will be noteworthy to see which of the two parties succeeds in the appellate process.