Sailors Run Out Of Options At 9th Circ. In Fukushima Suit via Law360

By Juan Carlos Rodriguez

Law360 (July 1, 2020, 9:23 PM EDT) — U.S. sailors said Wednesday the Supreme Court is the next stop for their $1 billion lawsuit against General Electric Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Co. over alleged radiation injuries suffered during their response to the Japanese nuclear disaster, after striking out in the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit on Wednesday rejected the sailors’ bid for panel or en banc review of a May decision ending their case. But Charles A. Bonner of the Law Office of Bonner & Bonner, who represents the sailors, said the sailors will appeal to the nation’s high court.

“The Ninth Circuit, along with Tokyo Electric Power Co., along with the government of Japan, along with General Electric, have abandoned United States sailors and Marines and all of the 70,000 American first responders who went to Japan … to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Japan,” Bonner said Wednesday. “We will never abandon these sailors, and we will fight to the bitter end to get justice for them, which includes the right for them to present their claims in a federal court in the United States.”


As for the claims against TEPCO, the panel rejected the sailors’ argument that Judge Sammartino got it wrong on the international comity doctrine, which allows a court to dismiss a case when another country has a strong interest in handling the claims and can adequately do so. The panel said if the suit proceeded in California, the district court would have to study each development under the framework of Japanese law.

TEPCO spokesperson Ryounosuke Takanori on Wednesday praised the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

“TEPCO appreciates the court’s careful analysis and is pleased that the court recognized that Japan is the appropriate forum for these claims,” Takanori said.

GE declined to comment Wednesday.

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