Christian Living

chinaconnection 10/02/08

More News from the Melamine Front

Recent melamine milk news doesn't differ too much from events of the previous few weeks, for the most part.  There have been more recalls worldwide, including the Thai Dairy company Dutch Mill Group that will return 122 tons of milk powder back to China.

There have also been more melamine accounts, including one melamine-laced milkshake at a Chinese restaurant in Austria, and White Rabbit candies found in Connecticut.  On top of that we've seen more milk-related arrests, bringing the grand total to 27, and 15 additional companies guilty of using melamine in their milk products.

One incident, however, separated this week from last week in terms of the melamine milk trauma, with the introduction of the first milk-related lawsuit.  Parents of a one-year-old boy in China's Henan province are suing China's Sanlu Group for $22,000 in compensation for travel and medical expenses needed to treat their son's kidney stones.

If this case were tried in the U.S., it's highly probable that the company would probably lose a massive lawsuit, or settle out of court, offering some type of compensation to the family.  Furthermore, I doubt the plaintiff would just stop at $22,000.  They'd probably try to go for more, claiming millions in harm.

In China, which is substantially less lawsuit-happy, the outcome of the case is unclear, and could have interesting implications for China's developing legal system.  Generally these types of suits aren't even heard, though it's still doubtful how far it will advance.

One successful lawsuit against Sanlu, or any Chinese milk company for that matter, could be detrimental for various others.  The parents' success could also help to establish a new legal precedent, not just for the dairy industry, but various others.

At the moment, the situation doesn't look especially promising for the parents, since, as the Wall Street Journal reports, local officials have encouraged lawyers not to file suits.   

While we won't know the outcome of the lawsuit for a while, we'll probably hear significantly more news of melamine-related recalls and arrests in the upcoming days.