LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Nov. 05, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SPG Law, a law firm consisting of some of the top class action and group action litigators in the U.S. and the U.K., are bringing one of the largest claims in UK legal history against BHP Billiton PLC, one of the parent companies of Brazilian dam operator Samarco Mineiracao S.A. (“Samarco”), for damages resulting from the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster.
The village of Bento Rodrigues was destroyed in November 2015 by floods caused by the failure of Samarco’s Fundão dam in what has been called ‘the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history’.
SPG Law are representing over 240,000 individuals in Brazil who were victims of the disaster, which claimed the lives of nineteen people, destroyed 1,469 hectares of riparian forest and caused catastrophic environmental damage to the Rio Doce river basin.
The group action, filed in the High Court in Liverpool, is being brought for damages both on behalf of individuals and on behalf of communities, foundations and indigenous peoples collectively.
SPG Law is also representing 24 Brazilian municipal governments, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mariana and members of the Krenak indigenous community.
As BHP Billiton PLC is a UK registered company, SPG Law are bringing the claim in Liverpool under Brazilian law which provides for a number of different ways of holding parent companies liable for the acts and omissions of their subsidiaries, including Samarco. SPG Law believe that the total liabilities of BHP Billiton PLC will run into billions of pounds.
One of SPG Law’s U.S. partners, Glenn Phillips, commented: “BHP Billiton PLC are liable for the massive damage caused by the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster because Brazil’s laws provide both for strict liability for environmental torts and for parent companies to be liable for the acts and omissions of their subsidiaries”.
SPG Law partner Tom Goodhead, who has spent the last three months in Brazil working on the claim, commented: “Three years on from the tragedy, nearly a million Brazilian citizens affected by the disaster have either not been compensated at all or have received low financial settlements. In essence they have been ignored and forgotten. The process of compensation has so far been in the hands of the Defendants. This is about putting the Claimants in control.”
Harris Pogust, SPG Law’s managing partner of their Liverpool office, said: “These are people who have suffered greatly and have been failed by the Brazilian judicial system and the Renova Foundation. Now, they have the ability to fight back and, three years on from the disaster, a real opportunity to achieve justice.”
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