Attorneys Implore Judge to Keep Sailors’ Fukushima Case in U.S.

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November 14, 2018
SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel implored a federal judge Wednesday not to dismiss claims from U.S. service members who say they were exposed to radiation while aboard U.S. ships sent to render aid after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, Japan.
“We have 500 sailors who are badly hurt and some of them are dead. We have not been able to ask them a single question under oath … at the end of the day these folks just want their day in court,” Edwards told U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.
But Sammartino said at the beginning of the nearly three-hour court hearing she was inclined to dimiss the claims against Tokyo Electric Power Co. – or TEPCO – and General Electric for lack of personal jurisdiction.
U.S. sailors filed a class action in the Southern District of California in 2012 claiming radiation they were exposed to following the meltdown of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan while aboard U.S. vessels on a humanitarian mission has caused cancer, brain tumors, birth defects in their children and other rare health problems. Some have even died, according to their attorneys.
If U.S. courts dismiss the two related cases – Cooper et al. v. TEPCO et al. and Bartel et al. v. Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. et al. – the sailors could bring their claims in Japan under its Compensation for Nuclear Damage Act.
Sammartino did clarify throughout the hearing that she would not waste her or the attorneys’ time by holding a court hearing if she wasn’t going to consider their arguments.
Class attorney Charles Bonner of Sausalito, California implored the judge not to dismiss the litigation, noting that attorneys have not been able to conduct discovery in the case, and that the defendants’ motions to dismiss were “based on legal arguments,” not facts.
Bonner suggested class counsel needed to obtain contracts between GE, which designed and helped to maintain the nuclear reactors for 40 years in Fukushima, and TEPCO, which operated the plant. Bonner said the contracts likely contain a choice-of-law provision that would indicate whether the parties would agree to litigate in the U.S. or Japan.
“Our sailors have already been here five years. They need some resolution in this court,” Bonner said.
TEPCO attorney Gregory Stone of Munger Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles said the case has seen new developments in the few years since Sammartino found it should not be dismissed – a decision affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.
Those new developments include three times as many cases filed in Japan over the nuclear meltdown, which Stone said “demonstrates the Japanese interest in resolving these claims.”
TEPCO has paid 8.163 trillion yen, or $76 billion – one percent of Japan’s total GDP – to resolve claims stemming from the disaster, “a huge amount of money for a government to designate to one incident,” Stone said.
General Electric attorney Michael Schissel of Arnold & Porter in New York told Sammartino Japan’s interest would be most impaired if its laws were not applied to the litigation and that a contract between GE and TEPCO over choice of law “would be completely irrelevant to the government’s interest in having its laws apply.”
If Japanese law is applied to the case, GE would be dismissed.
Edwards again reiterated the class’ desire to begin discovery, saying what they’ve pleaded so far “is what we have read in the newspaper and saw in the news.”
Edwards suggested if the Southern District of California dismissed the cases, the sailors wouldn’t “go to Japan and hire Japanese lawyers.”
Bonner buoyed Edwards’ point, noting a declaration from Japanese lawyers who said the class would not get a fair trial in Japan, where no jury would decide the case’s merits.
“If they want to be fair, let’s have a settlement conference before your honor – the Japanese lawyers representing TEPCO are here,” Bonner said, gesturing to the lawyers in the room.
Stone recognized the recent Veteran’s Day holiday by thanking the handful of service member-plaintiffs present before noting while the “injuries they suffered are unfortunate and regrettable … we don’t think they can prove it.”
Stone also pointed out that the Department of Defense, United Nations and World Health Organization had looked into the health claims on radiation exposure and found the radiation was too low to cause the claimed injuries.
Sammartino took the matter under submission and indicated that she will issue a written ruling.
https://www.courthousenews.com/attorneys-implore-judge-to-keep-sailors-fukushima-case-in-u-s/?fbclid=IwAR3Bhh7MyS0PYcQaa1fqNAGd4agqYnQ7hGF_musSukQCk-s12lx3f_m38vU

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Americans seek $1 bil. in damages over Fukushima nuclear disaster

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A U.S. Marine assists Japanese Self-Defense Force members in removing debris from the grounds of Minato Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, in this file photo taken on April 1, 2011.
 
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Some 200 U.S. residents filed a suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and a U.S. firm seeking at least $1 billion to cover medical expenses related to radiation exposure suffered during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the utility said Monday.
 
The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with U.S. federal courts in the Southern District of California and the District of Columbia by participants in the U.S. forces’ Operation Tomodachi relief effort carried out in the wake of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that crippled TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
Many of the plaintiffs are suing TEPCO and the U.S. company, whose name was withheld by TEPCO, for the second time after a similar suit was rejected by the federal court in California in January.
 
They are seeking the establishment of a compensation fund of at least $1 billion to cover medical and other costs, the utility said.
 
The plaintiffs claim that the nuclear accident occurred due to improper design and management of the plant by TEPCO. They are also seeking compensation for physical and psychological damage suffered as a result of the disaster, said the utility.
In Operation Tomodachi, which began two days after the natural disasters, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and other U.S. military resources and personnel were deployed to deliver supplies and undertake relief efforts at the same time as three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex suffered fuel meltdowns.
 

The Irradiated Sailors of the USS Reagan

Injustice At Sea: the Irradiated Sailors of the USS Reagan
by Linda Pentz Gunter

American sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan were exposed to radiation from Fukushima. Many are sick. Some have died. Why can’t they get justice?

 

 image.0jpg.jpgSailors scrub the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan following a countermeasure wash down to decontaminate the flight deck while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan on March 23, 2011. The Reagan, along with 15 other ships that took part in the relief effort, still have some radiation contamination more than seven years later, the Navy says.

 

“Coverage of the USS Ronald Reagan has been astoundingly limited,” wrote Der Spiegel in a February 2015 story. Since then, nothing much has changed.

The German magazine was referring to the saga of the American Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier whose crew pitched in to help victims of the March 11, 2011 Tsunami and earthquake in Japan, then found themselves under the radioactive plume from the stricken coastal nuclear reactors at Fukushima. Since then, crew members in eye-popping numbers have come down with unexplained illnesses — more than 70 and still counting. Some have died. And many are suing.

The USS Reagan was part of Operation Tomodachi, a U.S. armed forces mission involving 24,000 U.S. service members, and numerous ships and aircraft bringing aid to the victims of the tsunami and earthquake.

On January 5, 2018, a federal judge in San Diego, CA, dismissed the latest version of a class action lawsuit brought by USS Reagan sailors and US Marines. This was just the latest milestone in a long and winding path to justice strewn with roadblocks and delays.

The original class action lawsuit — Cooper et al v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc., was filed in San Diego, the home port of the USS Reagan, on December 21, 2012. A second class action suit — Bartel et al v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. et al — was subsequently filed on August  18, 2017 and was the case dismissed in January.

The plaintiffs are represented by California attorneys Charles Bonner and Paul Garner, and by Edwards Kirby, the North Carolina firm led by former U.S. Senator, John Edwards.

Cooper now has 236 named plaintiffs and Bartel 157. But, wrote attorney Cate Edwards of Edwards Kirby and daughter of John Edwards, in an email;

“We have about 34 additional plaintiffs who have contacted us since the filing of the Bartel complaint, and that number continues to grow on a weekly basis.” As a class action the suit also “encompasses additional, unnamed class members— up to 70,000 American servicemen and women who served in Operation Tomodachi and may have been exposed to the radiation from Fukushima,” Edwards wrote.

Sadly those numbers sometimes also decline. Nine of the plaintiffs have already died. It is unknown how many others who took part in Operation Tomodachi, but did not join the suit, may also have died.

The Bartel plaintiffs are requesting an award of $5 billion to compensate them for injuries, losses and future expenses associated with their exposure to radiation, as a result of what they allege is TEPCO & GE’s negligence.  The Cooper plaintiffs have asked for an award of $1 billion.

Bartel is an extension of Cooper, with different plaintiffs but virtually identical facts and claims. It had to be filed separately, explained Edwards, because at the time more sailors came forward, the Cooper suit was stuck in appeal.  Eventually, Edwards said, the lawyers hope to consolidate the two suits “for litigation on the merits.”

But almost seven years after the Fukushima disaster, those merits are yet to be heard, with the case mired in legal wrangling and delays brought by the defendants — TEPCO, along with General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba and Hitachi, the builders and suppliers of the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

One such delay occurred when TEPCO and the Japanese government tried to force the case to be heard in Japan. But on June 22, 2017, the attorneys won in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and ensured the case would be heard in the U.S.

The plaintiffs charge that TEPCO lied to the public and the U.S. Navy about the radiation levels at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant at the time the Japanese government was asking for help for victims of the earthquake and Tsunami. By doing so, TEPCO deliberately allowed those involved in Operation Tomodachi to sail into harm’s way and become exposed to the radiation spewing from the stricken reactors on the battered Japanese coast.

A floating pariah  

Whether or not U.S. military commanders knew of the radiation risks once the readings were in, is moot legally. The plaintiffs are barred from suing the U.S. Navy because of the Feres Doctrine, dating from the 1950s, and which prohibits any member of the military from recovering damages from the government for injuries sustained during active military service.

The USS Ronald Reagan arrived off the Japan coast before dawn on March 12, 2011 with a crew of 4,500. It had been on its way to South Korea but returned to join Operation Tomodachi.

But what actually happened to the Reagan after that is still clouded in confusion, or possibly cover-up. After it got doused in the radioactive plume, then drew in radioactively contaminated water through its desalination system — which the crew used for drinking, cooking and bathing — it turned into a pariah ship, just two and a half months into its aid mission.

Floating at sea, the USS Reagan was turned away by Japan, South Korea and Guam. For two and a half months it was the radioactive MS St. Louis, not welcome in any port until Thailand finally took the ship into harbor.

There is no disagreement that the radioactive plume from Fukushima — which largely blew out to sea rather onto land — passed over the Reagan. Radiation meters on board confirmed this. But the levels of exposure are disputed, as is how close the ship came to shore and the melting Fukushima reactors and how often it strayed into — or stayed within — the plume.

Some versions have the radiation readings on board at 30 times “normal,” other 300 times.  Official Navy reports say the ship stayed 100 nautical miles away from the Japan coast.

But some crew members dispute that, saying they were at times just two miles away from shore. In an interview with journalist Roger Witherspoon for his article in Truthout, Navy Quartermaster, Maurice Ennis described a “cat and mouse” game played by the ship to try to stay out of the plume.

“We stayed about 80 days, and we would stay as close as two miles offshore and then sail away,” he told Witherspoon. “We kept coming back because it was a matter of helping the people of Japan who needed help. But it would put us in a different dangerous area.”

How close the ship came to the Fukushima reactors specifically, as opposed to the Japanese shoreline, is also a matter of dispute. Until the plaintiffs’ lawyers can issue subpoenas, hopefully getting a look at the ship’s logs, it is an important question that remains unanswered.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Hair told Stars and Stripes that he was informed the Reagan came within “five to 10 miles off the coast from Fukushima.” Stars and Stripes also reported that “many sailors have disputed the Navy’s accounting, saying they were so close that they could see the plant.”

Ship’s personnel who flew missions to mainland Japan to aid the earthquake and Tsunami victims also risked exposure to the radiation from Fukushima. Their aircraft, like the ship’s decks, had to be decontaminated upon return. In fact, a total of 25 US ships involved in Operation Tomodachi were found to be contaminated with radiation.

In the June 22, 2017 opinion allowing the class action lawsuits to be heard in the U.S., Judge Jay S. Bybee observed of the anomaly about the ship’s location that:

TEPCO makes much of Plaintiffs’ allegations that the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was initially positioned “two miles off the coast,” while the Navy had been warned to stay at least “50 miles outside of the radius. . . of the [FNPP].” Appellant’s Opening Brief 7. The SAC [Second Amended Complaint of plaintiffs] alleges, however, that the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was situated so as to provide relief in the city of Sendai, which is located over fifty miles north of the FNPP. Thus, it is possible that the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was at once two miles off the coast and fifty miles away from the FNPP. Although other portions of the SAC suggest that the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was closer to the FNPP, where the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was situated is unclear from the record before us, and further factual development is necessary to resolve this issue.

No worse than flying or eating a banana

At first, any concerns about radiation exposure were dismissed by military brass. Sailors were told the exposures were no worse than flying or eating a banana, according to Naval officer Angel Torres, one of the plaintiffs.

What they didn’t disclose was the very significant difference between eating a banana — during which the body ingests but also excretes identical amounts of radioactive potassium-40 to maintain a healthy balance — and exposure to nuclear accident fallout. Fukushima was leaking cesium, tritium and strontium as well as radioactive iodine which attacks the thyroid. For example, cesium, can bind to muscle, or strontium to bone, irradiating the person from within. This is a very different effect than the brief visit cosmic radiation pays to the body when we fly in an airplane.

There was also, according to former Department of Energy official, Robert Alvarez, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, a problem with the dose methodology.

Alvarez told Who.What.Why that “the only way to get an accurate internal and external dose on any individual is to take continual measurements throughout the time they are exposed. People must wear special monitoring equipment and undergo a regular regime of monitoring. This is especially important in trying to assess the health effects from a multiple meltdown situation with large explosions involving reactor cores, as occurred at Fukushima.”

Who.What.Why was created by long-time journalist, Russ Baker because, as he writes on the site, “the media gatekeepers, both ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative,’ will not allow the biggest, most disturbing revelations to see the light of day.”

That is precisely the fate that appears to have befallen the undeniably disturbing USS Reagan story.

It has been touched on hardly at all by the mainstream media in the US although Jake Tapper delivered a 7-minute piece about it in February 2014 on CNN. Local television news stations have carried reports when a sailor from their area joined the law suit but rarely covered the bigger picture. An article in the New York Times two days into the disaster, chose to downplay and dismiss radiation concerns.

Aside from the legal trade publication, Courthouse News, most of the consistent coverage in the US has come, unsurprisingly, from the independent media. These include Counterpunch, Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture on RT (now off the air), Mother Jones and a second piece in Truthout in addition to the Witherspoon article, and the work of anti-nuclear activist reporters, Harvey Wasserman’s Free Press and Libbe HalLevy’s Nuclear Hotseat podcast.

Epidemic of illnesses among sailors too strange to be a coincidence

The delay in getting accurate information, then having to contend with disinformation and official downplaying of the severity of the exposures has cost many of the sailors dearly. Treatment by specialists has often had to come out of their own pockets. Many cannot afford it. Some have paid with their lives.

The sicknesses range from the leukemias and cancers most often associated with radiation exposures, to immune system diseases, headaches, difficulty concentrating, thyroid problems, bloody noses, rectal and gynecological bleeding, weakness in sides of the body accompanied by the shrinking of muscle mass, memory loss, testicular cancer, problems with vision, high-pitch ringing in the ears and anxiety.

Attorney Edwards sees the epidemic of illnesses among the Reagan crew as just too pronounced to be unconnected to Fukushima-related radiation exposure.

“Why are all these young, healthy, fit people getting cancer? Experiencing thyroid issues? It’s too strange to be a coincidence,” she told Courthouse News.

“That just doesn’t happen absent some external cause,” Edwards added. “All of these people experienced the same thing and were exposed to radiation at Fukushima. A lot of this is just common sense.”

Common sense, of course, does not usually prevail in such cases. There are far more powerful forces at work. And, as always, the burden of proof falls upon the victims, not the most likely perpetrator.

The case is dismissed but the lawyers aren’t quitting

In her January 5, 2018 ruling in San Diego, federal judge Janis Sammartino sided with the defendant’s request for dismissal, stating that the plaintiffs had failed to establish that TEPCO’s actions were directed at California — a technicality. The judge also wrote that the plaintiffs “have provided no information to support an assertion that Tepco knew its actions would cause harm likely to be suffered in California.”

However, lawyers in the case plan to press on. “The Bartel case was dismissed without prejudice, which means that we are able to refile those claims,” Edward said in her email. “We plan to refile those claims in the coming weeks, and are still working on determining the best course for doing so.”

She told Courthouse News, that the team intends to “continue to fight for the justice these sailors deserve. We will also be moving forward with the Cooper case in due course, and look forward to reaching the merits in that case.”

Meanwhile, the sailors in the lawsuit still struggle to get either justice or media attention. Official sources who could shed more light on what actually happened, aren’t talking, including the ship’s captain, Thom Burke, who has never spoken out.

Lead plaintiff, Lindsay Cooper, has been told by Veterans Administration officials that her symptoms are likely due to “stress” and has denied her claim for disability based on radiation exposure, claiming there is not enough proof. Yet Cooper suffers from continuous menstrual cycles, and a yo-yoing thyroid that results in massive weight gain and then weight loss every few months. Her gallbladder was removed because it ceased to function.

When another plaintiff, Master Chief Petty Office Leticia Morales, had her thyroid taken out, she learned her doctor had already removed thyroid glands from six other sailors on the Reagan.

As lawyer Garner put it: “These kids were first responders. They went in happily doing a humanitarian mission, and they came out cooked.”

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/07/injustice-at-sea-the-irradiated-sailors-of-the-uss-reagan/

 

Yet, the other ships that are part of a Carrier group. Never get mentioned.

16 US ships that aided in Operation Tomodachi still contaminated with radiation

March 13, 2016

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Sixteen U.S. ships that participated in relief efforts after Japan’s nuclear disaster five years ago remain contaminated with low levels of radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, top Navy officials told Stars and Stripes.

In all, 25 ships took part in Operation Tomadachi, the name given for the U.S. humanitarian aid operations after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami, whose waves reached runup heights of 130 feet, crippled the Fukushima plant, causing a nuclear meltdown.

In the years since the crisis, the ships have undergone cleanup efforts, the Navy said, and 13 Navy and three Military Sealift Command vessels still have some signs of contamination, mostly to ventilation systems, main engines and generators.

“The low levels of radioactivity that remain are in normally inaccessible areas that are controlled in accordance with stringent procedures,” the Navy said in an email to Stars and Stripes. “Work in these areas occurs mainly during major maintenance availabilities and requires workers to follow strict safety procedures.”

All normally accessible spaces and equipment aboard the ships have been surveyed and decontaminated, Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, wrote to Stars and Stripes.

“The radioactive contamination found on the ships involved in Operation Tomodachi is at such low levels that it does not pose a health concern to the crews, their families, or maintenance personnel,” Hilarides said.

The largest U.S. ship to take part in the relief operation was the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, which normally carries a crew of more than 5,000 sailors. In 2014, three years after the disaster, the Reagan’s ventilation system was contaminated with 0.01 millirems of radiation per hour, according to the Navy. Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines advise no more than 2 millirems of radiation in one hour in any unrestricted area, and 100 millirems total in a calendar year from external and internal sources in unrestricted and controlled areas, so full-time exposure on the Reagan would be below that.

Plume of radiation

In the days after the tsunami hit the Fukushima complex, the plant suffered multiple explosions and reactors began to melt down.

Officials from the NRC told Congress that extremely high levels of radiation were being emitted from the impaired plant. Japanese nuclear experts said winds forced a radioactive plume out to sea, and efforts to keep fuel rods cool using sea water caused tons of radiated water to be dumped into the ocean.

The Reagan was dispatched to take part in relief efforts, arriving the next day. Navy officials say the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier stayed at least 100 nautical miles away from the damaged plant, but many sailors have disputed the Navy’s accounting, saying they were so close that they could see the plant.

 

image1.jpgA U.S. Marine sprays the surface of an F/A-18C Hornet aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during a countermeasure wash down on the flight deck in March 2011. The Reagan, along with 15 other ships that took part in the relief effort, still have some radiation contamination more than five years later, the Navy says. Sailors aboard the ships, however, are not in any danger.

 

The Navy has acknowledged that the Reagan passed through a plume of radiation. Navy images showed sailors with their faces covered, scrubbing the deck of the Reagan with soap and water as a precautionary measure afterward. The Reagan and sailors stayed off the coast of Japan for several weeks to aid their Japanese allies.

The multibillion-dollar ship, projected to last at least 50 years after its launch in 2001, then was taken offline for more than a year for “deep maintenance and modernization” at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., according to Navy officials.

“Procedures were in place to survey, control and remove any low-level residual contamination,” the Navy said. “Personnel working on potentially contaminated systems were monitored with sensitive dosimeters, and no abnormal radiation exposures were identified.”

Upgrades and cleaning also took place at the ship’s next stop in San Diego.

Sailors who performed the work said it entailed entering spaces deep within the ship, testing for high levels of radiation, and if it was found, sanding, priming and painting the areas. They say there were given little to no protective gear, a claim that the Navy denies.

Of the 1,360 individuals aboard the Reagan who were monitored by the Navy following the incident, more than 96 percent were found not to have detectable internal contamination, the Navy said. The highest measured dose was less than 10 percent of the average annual exposure to someone living in the United States.

Radiation effects unknown

Experts differ on the effects of radiation in general and, specifically, for those involved in Operation Tomodachi.

Eight Reagan sailors, claiming a host of medical conditions they say are related to radiation exposure, filed suit in 2012 against the nuclear plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. The suit asserts that TEPCO lied, coaxing the Navy closer to the plant even though it knew the situation was dire. General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi were later added as defendants for allegations of faulty parts for the reactors.

A spokesman for TEPCO declined to comment for this story because of the sailors’ lawsuit, which was slated to go forward pending appeals in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The illnesses listed in the lawsuit include genetic immune system diseases, headaches, difficulty concentrating, thyroid problems, bloody noses, rectal and gynecological bleeding, weakness in sides of the body accompanied by the shrinking of muscle mass, memory loss, leukemia, testicular cancer, problems with vision, high-pitch ringing in the ears and anxiety.

The list of sailors who have joined the lawsuit, which is making its way through the courts, has grown to 370.

https://www.stripes.com/news/16-us-ships-that-aided-in-operation-tomodachi-still-contaminated-with-radiation-1.399094

Fukushima Radiation Case Doesn’t Belong in US. Any conflicts of interest there?

court 3.jpg

 

Posted on 6th Jan 2018 by Shaun McGee aka arclight2011

On the unfortunate news that the court case for the US nuclear victims from the USS Ronald Reagan which was contaminated by a radioactive plume from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster in 2011 has been rejected in the USA, I decided to look into the finances of the presiding judge (Judge Janis L Sammartino) who was overseeing the case in the courts on Friday 5 Jan 2018.

The latest financial disclosure I could find was from 2010;

screenshot-from-2018-01-06-105721.png

 

Source of screenshot; https://www.scribd.com/document/74646914/Janis-L-Sammartino-Financial-Disclosure-Report-for-Sammartino-Janis-L

Looking at the companies listed I decided to see if there was any connection to the nuclear industry with these companies. First I looked at MiTEK;

Apr 3, 2014 – MiTek Industries has acquired Ellis & Watts Global Industries, a designer and fabricator of HVAC products for nuclear and military customers. Chesterfield-based MiTek, a supplier of engineered products, software and equipment for the construction industry that’s owned by Berkshire Hathaway, said Batavia … http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/mitek-acquires-ohio-hvac-fabricator-ellis-watts/article_d94a3326-e9e2-5cef-893e-c92d064b6b8a.html

And the link to the company can be found here;

MiTek is comprised of more than 40 companies operating in nearly 100 countries globally, providing a broad array of products and services. Together, we deliver a powerful combination of engineered products and technologies to customers in the ever-evolving building industry. https://www.mii.com/Our-Business/

Secondly, I looked at Fiserv, an investment company and I found a link to Fiserv`s technology officer;

In 1999, Jim was asked to join GE as their first e-commerce attorney. Jack Welch had just announced that the “E in GE stands for E-commerce” and Jim thought that it would be a great challenge to participate in the “digital transformation” of the large multinational company. While at GE, he managed the legal and compliance aspects of over 500 “business digitization” projects, and took advantage of GE leadership and quality training courses. In 2003, with privacy issues becoming more prominent, Jim was named “Chief Privacy Leader” for GE, and led GE’s pioneering initiative to implement Binding Corporate Rules for the transfer of personal data from Europe, personally meeting with dozens of European data protection officials. Eventually, though, it became apparent that Jim would have to move his family away from Atlanta to continue with GE, and he began searching for opportunities closer to home.

In 2005, Atlanta’s CheckFree was looking for a Chief Privacy Officer and decided that Jim would be the perfect person for the role. In December 2007, CheckFree was acquired by Fiserv, Inc. and Jim became the Chief Privacy Officer of the combined organization. Among other duties, Jim provides privacy and regulatory compliance guidance for the Fiserv Enterprise Risk and Resilience program. Founded in 1984, Fiserv (NASDAQ: FISV ) is a leading global technology provider serving the financial services industry , with over 500 products and service offerings. Fiserv had 2012 revenue of $4.48 Billion, has over 20,000 employees, and has over 16,000 clients in 106 countries, including relationships with all 100 of the top 100 U.S. banking institutions.  http://www.atlantatrend.org/news/99-news-april-2013/611-atlanta-spotlight-jim-jordan

And TEVA pharamaceutical industries which makes resin for nuclear waste containers. This company is in the process of being bought out because of financial difficulties.

Nov 5, 2017 – JERUSALEM, Nov 5 (Reuters) – Billionaire businessman Len Blavatnik is looking to buy a significant stake in debt-ridden Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, according to Israeli media reports. Two of Israel’s leading financial news outlets, Globes and The Marker, reported on Sunday that … https://www.reuters.com/article/teva-pharm-ind-ma/billionaire-blavatnik-weighs-big-share-purchase-in-teva-pharm-reports-idUSL5N1NB0AV

And it might be worth pointing out from a Guardian report on Len Blavatnik that this billionaire has some interesting buisness practises;

His charitable donations have been described as some of the most generous ever made in the UK, but unease about Sir Leonard Blavatnik’s philanthropy has grown after a leading political academic quit the University of Oxford. The Ukraine-born billionaire gave £75m to Oxford to …  https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/03/len-blavatnik-oligarch-controversy-philanthropy-resignation-oxford-professor

It would be interesting to get an updated version of Judge Sammatino`s financial disclosures to confirm these connections still exist or when she divested from these companies. I leave the links and extracts above for any discerning journalist researcher or blogger to look into.

Fukushima Radiation Case Doesn’t Belong in US. Any conflicts of interest there?

Tepco, GE Escape $5B Fukushima Radiation Suit

court 2Law360, New York (January 5, 2018, 7:17 PM EST) — A California federal judge on Friday dumped a $5 billion suit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. and General Electric Co. over alleged radiation risks to U.S. Navy members responding to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying her court lacked jurisdiction over the sailors’ claims.
 
More than 150 California-based U.S. Navy first responders claimed that Tepco knew there were problems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station as soon as five hours after a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami but didn’t warn the U.S. responders who came as part of the Operation Tomodachi mission to bring aid to disaster victims. But U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino said her court can’t exercise personal jurisdiction over Tepco because its alleged actions aren’t sufficiently tied to California.
 
“Plaintiffs’ allegations that the effects of TEPCO’s conduct were felt by American citizens while on U.S. ships, one of which with a home port of San Diego, are too attenuated to establish purposeful direction,” Judge Sammartino said. “Plaintiffs have provided no information to support an assertion that TEPCO knew its actions would cause harm likely to be suffered in California.”
 
Even though Tepco did business in California between 2003 and 2006, that can’t tie the company to any negligence involving Fukushima alleged by the plaintiffs, the judge said.
 
“But for TEPCO’s activities in California that ended five years before the incident, would plaintiffs have suffered their alleged injuries after being deployed to Japan?” Judge Sammartino said. “If TEPCO had not done any business in California, would the [Fukushima plant] have released radiation after being struck by the tsunami? Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the answer to these questions is yes, thus, the court finds plaintiffs have failed to satisfy this element of specific jurisdiction.”
 
Judge Sammartino also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that her court had jurisdiction over Tepco under the federal long-arm statute. The plaintiffs have only made state law claims and have asserted diversity jurisdiction as the reason the court should hear the case, which means their claims don’t arise under federal law, the judge said.
 
As for GE, which the plaintiffs claimed negligently designed boiling water reactors that were on site at Fukushima, Judge Sammartino said there’s no evidence of any other plaintiffs outside California. The lack of complete diversity of plaintiffs means the federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction, the judge said.
 
The suit, filed in August, was at least the second such suit against Tepco and GE over the sailors’ Fukushima-related radiation exposure, court records show. An earlier suit, originally lodged in 2012 and amended in 2014, was filed on behalf of a proposed class of more than 70,000 U.S. citizens who were potentially exposed to the radiation.
 
The current case addresses issues outlined by 157 plaintiffs, including estates, spouses and children of personnel who have since passed away from what the suit claims are radiation-based illnesses.
 
Both suits were filed by a legal team that includes former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and his daughter Cate Edwards, who is based in the Edwards Kirby firm’s San Diego office. 
 
The Ninth Circuit in June upheld a lower court’s decision to allow the sailors in the earlier action to pursue their $1 billion lawsuit, rejecting Tepco’s contention that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction over the claims, court records show.
 
Tepco had asserted in that appeal the theory that the suit is blocked by the 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, an effort to establish an international liability framework for nuclear accidents.
 
The unanimous panel said in June that the convention’s provision that limits jurisdiction over nuclear accidents to the country in which it occurs only applies to claims arising after the convention’s entry into force, which was April 2015. The sailors’ lawsuit was filed in December 2012. The panel paid particular attention to the portion of the convention that gives exclusive jurisdiction to “the courts of the contracting party within which the nuclear incident occurs,” according to the ruling.
 
That case is currently pending in Judge Sammartino’s court. In dismissing the current case Friday, the judge downplayed the plaintiffs’ argument that Tepco’s dismissal bid was “an exercise in futility” because they would simply be added to the earlier suit.
 
“Although it may be true that dismissing this action against TEPCO will complicate the two cases, this has no bearing on the issue of whether personal jurisdiction is proper,” Judge Sammartino said.
 
Representatives for the parties couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Friday.
 
The plaintiffs are represented by Charles A. Bonner and A. Cabral Bonner of Law Offices of Bonner & Bonner, John R. Edwards and Catharine E. Edwards of Edwards Kirby, and John C. Garner.
 
Tepco is represented by Gregory P. Stone, Daniel P. Collins, Hailyn J. Chen, Kyle W. Mach and Bryan H. Heckenlively of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.
 
GE is represented by David J. Weiner, Sally L. Pei and Michael D. Schissel of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.
 
The case is Dustin Bartel et al. v. Tokyo Electric Power Co., case number 2:17-cv-01671, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
 
–Additional reporting by Kat Greene and Juan Carlos Rodriguez. Editing by Emily Kokoll.
 

Judge: Sailors’ Fukushima Radiation Case Doesn’t Belong in US

 

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A federal judge on Friday dismissed without prejudice the latest class action filed by hundreds of U.S. sailors exposed to radiation in the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear disaster, finding a San Diego courtroom isn’t the right place for the case.

U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino issued a 15-page order dismissing the class action against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TepCo) and General Electric, finding the service members who were stationed aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in San Diego have failed to establish how the Japanese utility’s acts were directed at California.

“There is no targeting here. Plaintiffs’ allegations that the effects of TepCo’s conduct were felt by American citizens while on U.S. ships, one of which with a home port of San Diego, are too attenuated to establish purposeful direction,” Sammartino wrote.

Sammartino added the sailors “have provided no information to support an assertion that TepCo knew its actions would cause harm likely to be suffered in California.”

In an email, class attorney Cate Edwards said, “We appreciate the time and attention that Judge Sammartino gave our arguments. Per her order, we intend to refile the case on behalf of the Bartel Plaintiffs and continue to fight for the justice these sailors deserve. We will also be moving forward with the Cooper case in due course, and look forward to reaching the merits in that case.”

The judge’s order dismisses the most recent class action filed in San Diego Federal Court last August. It follows another class action filed by an initial group of sailors in 2012, a year after they were sent to render aid after the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake which caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to meltdown and release radiation. That case has survived dismissal and an appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

More than 420 U.S. service members in the two cases seek compensation and medical monitoring, testing and health care costs for exposure to radiation. Some sailors have died from complications of radiation exposure since the cases were filed, and more than 20 are living with cancer, according to the lawsuits.

In a court hearing Thursday, Sammartino considered the motions to dismiss from TepCo and GE. They argued California courts have no jurisdiction over events in Japan. Sammartino also considered a choice-of-law motion from General Electric, which wants to apply Japanese law to the case or have it transferred to Japan.

TepCo operated the Fukushima nuclear plant, and GE designed its reactors.

TepCo attorney Gregory Stone, with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, said at the Thursday hearing all claims brought in the United States could be brought in Japan and that the statute of limitations has not run out there.

GE attorney Michael Schissel, with Arnold & Porter in New York, also said the case belongs in Japan, where the facts originated and the witnesses are. Schissel said the Japanese government declared the nuclear meltdown was not a natural disaster, so TepCo could be held liable for damages.

But Edwards, of the firm Edwards Kirby in North Carolina, said it’s important to look at the situation “from altitude,” to see things from the sailors’ perspective.

“These are American sailors, American employees serving their country, who were sent on American ships on international waters at the request of the Japanese government … their ally, which owns the majority of stock in defendant TepCo,” Edwards said.

“Being on an American ship in international waters puts you on American soil.”

Edwards said that since the vast majority of the sailor-plaintiffs were stationed in San Diego and GE designed the nuclear reactors at its San Jose headquarters, the case belongs in California.

“They want the case in Japan because they know it goes away; that’s clearly their strategy,” Edwards said.

He added: “This case screams federal jurisdiction; this case screams United States of America. The underlying concept of this whole thing is fundamental and basic notions of fairness being met.”

Edwards’ co-counsel Charles Bonner, with Bonner & Bonner in Sausalito, said if the case were transferred to Japan, where GE could be dismissed as a defendant, GE could “continue building their defective reactors with impunity.”

Bonner added that California has a vested interest in applying its own laws, including strict liability for defective products, and punitive damages to deter companies from selling defective products. He pointed out that one-sixth of the U.S. Navy is based in San Diego, with 69 Navy ships in San Diego Harbor.

“(Japan’s) compensation act has not been applied to their own citizens, only businesses. Why should we speculate their compensation act will help our sailors? It will not,” Bonner said.

Stone countered that Bonner was “simply wrong” in claiming that the Japanese nuclear damage compensation act had not benefited individual Japanese citizens. He said it is the conduct of defendants TepCo and GE – which occurred in Japan – and not the plaintiffs’ place of residence that should determine jurisdiction over the case.

The sailors’ attorneys indicated Thursday if Sammartino dismissed the class action, they would seek leave to amend their first case, Cooper v. TepCo, to add additional plaintiffs who were dismissed from the second case, Bartel v. TepCo. The defendants are expected to oppose the motion.

Stone and Schissel did not immediately return phone and email requests for comment Friday.

https://www.courthousenews.com/sailors-fight-to-keep-fukushima-radiation-case-in-us/

Sailors Fight to Keep Fukushima Radiation Case in US

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SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel on Thursday asked a federal judge not to transfer to Japan a class action by hundreds of U.S. sailors exposed to radiation in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
An initial group of sailors sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TepCo) and General Electric in 2012. A second class action from sailors sent to render aid after the earthquake and tsunami was filed in San Diego Federal Court last August.
The March 11, 2011 tsunami caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to shut down, but loss of circulation water coolant led to meltdowns and explosions whose radioactive releases may not be completely cleaned up for centuries.
More than 420 U.S. service members in the two cases seek compensation and medical monitoring, testing and health care costs for exposure to radiation. Some sailors have died from complications of radiation exposure since the cases were filed, and more than 20 are living with cancer, according to the lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino on Thursday considered motions to dismiss from TepCo and GE. They claim that California courts have no jurisdiction over events in Japan. Sammartino also considered a choice-of-law motion from General Electric, which wants to apply Japanese law to the case or have it transferred to Japan.
TepCo operated the Fukushima nuclear plant; GE designed its nuclear reactors.
TepCo attorney Gregory Stone, with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, said all claims brought in the United States could be brought in Japan and that the statute of limitations has not run out in Japan’s court system.
GE attorney Michael Schissel, with Arnold & Porter in New York, said the case belongs in Japan, where the facts originated and the witnesses are. Schissel said the Japanese government declared the nuclear meltdown was not a natural disaster, so TepCo could be held liable for damages.
But Edwards, whose firm Edwards Kirby is based in North Carolina, said it’s important to look at the situation “from altitude,” to see things from the sailors’ perspective.
“These are American sailors, American employees serving their country, who were sent on American ships on international waters at the request of the Japanese government … their ally, which owns the majority of stock in defendant TepCo,” Edwards said.
“Being on an American ship in international waters puts you on American soil.”
Edwards said that since the vast majority of the sailor-plaintiffs were stationed in San Diego and GE designed the nuclear reactors at its San Jose headquarters, the case belongs in California.
“They want the case in Japan because they know it goes away; that’s clearly their strategy,” Edwards said.
He added: “This case screams federal jurisdiction; this case screams United States of America. The underlying concept of this whole thing is fundamental and basic notions of fairness being met.”
Edwards’ co-counsel Charles Bonner, with Bonner & Bonner in Sausalito, said if the case were transferred to Japan, where GE could be dismissed as a defendant, GE could “continue building their defective reactors with impunity.”
Bonner added that California has a vested interest in applying its own laws, including strict liability for defective products, and punitive damages to deter companies from selling defective products. He pointed out that one-sixth of the U.S. Navy is based in San Diego, with 69 Navy ships in San Diego Harbor.
“(Japan’s) compensation act has not been applied to their own citizens, only businesses. Why should we speculate their compensation act will help our sailors? It will not,” Bonner said.
Stone countered that Bonner was “simply wrong” in claiming that the Japanese nuclear damage compensation act had not benefited individual Japanese citizens. He said it is the conduct of defendants TepCo and GE – which occurred in Japan – and not the plaintiffs’ place of residence that should determine jurisdiction over the case.
Sammartino indicated she will want further briefing from the attorneys before ruling on the motion to dismiss.