A San Diego federal judge has dismissed two class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of hundreds of U.S. sailors who claimed they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation during a humanitarian mission in Japan following 2011’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
In the end, the case came down to a jurisdiction issue. U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino ruled in orders Monday that Japanese law applies to these claims and leaves open the possibility for the sailors to pursue recourse there. […]
Sammartino sided with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s characterization of the legal battle as a “‘close case’ with competing interests pointing in both directions.”
She later concluded: “Now, however, after considering the Japanese and United States governments’ views, the Court finds that the foreign and public policy interests weigh toward dismissal.”
Paul Garner, a Carlsbad attorney on the sailors’ legal team, said Wednesday that he anticipates an appeal.
He called the notion that any of the sailors would be paid for personal injury or wrongful death in Japan “a fiction,” noting that Japanese citizens are only being compensated for damages such as loss of livelihood or losses due to relocation.
To seek remedy in Japan, the sailors would have to be able to afford the trip, be healthy enough to travel, hire a Japanese lawyer, have their medical records translated, and appear before a tribunal.
“I don’t foresee any of them having the ability to go to Japan,” Garner said.