Cape/Gencors asbestos mining & milling activity, South Africa

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns">In 1997, a group of five South Africans suffering from asbestos-related disease (ARD) brought suit against Cape PLC in the English High Court seeking compensation for their injuries from Cape’s asbestos mining and milling activity in South Africa. The plaintiffs, former Cape workers and individuals living in the vicinity of Cape’s operations, alleged that Cape exposed its workers to 30 times the British legal limit of asbestos dust without adequate protective gear and that asbestos related injuries were suffered by those living near Cape’s asbestos operations. <br/><br/></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Cape/Gencors asbestos mining & milling activity, South Africa</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/south-africa">South Africa</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Cape Town</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Mineral processing<br /> Mineral ore exploration</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/asbestos'>Asbestos</a><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/cape-plc'>Cape PLC</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/united-kingdom'><small>United Kingdom</small></a><br /><a href='/company/gencor'>Gencor</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/united-states-of-america'><small>United States of America </small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Leigh Day & Co., specialist law firm, http://www.leighday.co.uk/Home</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>Mobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Industrial workers<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Deaths</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>asbestos-related disease</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Violations of human rights<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Compensation<br /> Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> Project cancelled</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>After the claim was filed, Cape applied to stay these claims on forum non conveniens grounds, arguing that the case should be tried in South Africa. At the beginning of 1998, Cape’s application was granted by the trial court, but the Court of Appeals later reversed the lower court’s decision. In 1999, another 2000 claims were commenced against Cape in England for ARD based on Cape’s activity in South Africa. Cape reapplied to stay these new claims, in addition to those filed in 1997, and Cape’s application was granted. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The plaintiffs then appealed to the UK House of Lords, and in 2000 the Law Lords held that the case should be allowed to continue in the English High Court. The Law Lords found that South African courts would not be a viable alternative forum because legal aid in South Africa had been withdrawn for personal injury claims and no reasonable likelihood existed for the plaintiffs to acquire effective legal representation on a contingency fee basis for a case of such complexity. After the House of Lords decision, more claimants joined the case, and by 2001 there were approximately 7500 claimants. In 2001, Cape agreed to a £21 million out-of-court settlement with the plaintiffs, but the company encountered financial problems in August 2002 and did not meet the agreed settlement terms. Therefore, the litigation recommenced in September 2002, and Gencor Ltd. was joined as a defendant in the case. Gencor is a South African company which took over some of Cape’s South African asbestos operations when Cape left the country in 1979. <br/><br/>In 2003, the plaintiffs, Cape and Gencor reached a settlement agreement. There were three parts to the settlement. First, Gencor established and now administers a £35 million trust in South Africa (the trust is to compensate ARD victims in South Africa who were not represented by Leigh Day & Co.). Second, Cape settled with its 7500 claimants for £7.5 million. Third, Gencor settled with the 7500 claimants for approximately £3 million.<br/><br/>Generally, asbestos mining stopped in South Africa in the mid-1980s, but people are still being diagnosed with ARDs like mesothelioma and asbestosis on a regular basis, while many more continue to be at risk from unrehabilitated sites.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> UK House of Lords: Judgments - Schalk Willem Burger Lubbe (Suing as Administrator of the Estate of Rachel Jacoba Lubbe) and 4 Others and Cape Plc. and Related Appeals, 20 July 2000 [House of Lords decision]<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Gill Nelson, Jill Murray and James Ian Phillips, The Risk of Asbestos Exposure in South African Diamond Mine Workers, <br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://annhyg.oxfordjournals.org/content/55/6/569.full" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Mc Cullok, Beating the odds, the quest for justice...<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4006910?uid=3737952&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102553376337" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> J. C. Wagner, C. A. Sleggs, Paul Marchand, Diffuse Pleural Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure in the North Western Cape Province<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://oem.bmj.com/content/17/4/260.short" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> All links are provided in the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre webpage at:<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.business-humanrights.org/Categories/Lawlawsuits/Lawsuitsregulatoryaction/LawsuitsSelectedcases/CapeGencorlawsuitsreSoAfrica" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> World Asbestos Report<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://worldasbestosreport.org/conferences/gac/gac2000/A2_5_134.php" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Action for Southern Africa: 'Cape Caves in on South African Asbestos Case', 13 Mar 2003<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Cape PLC: Cape Annual Report 2003 [scroll to page 47, item 26(ii) for discussion of 2003 settlement]<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Leigh Day & Co. (plaintiffs' counsel): South African Asbestos Victims Finally Get Their Money, 30 Jun 2003<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Thompsons Solicitors (counsel for claimants suing Gencor): Landmark Settlement Brings Justice for Thousands of SA Former Asbestos Miners, 13 Mar 2003<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Irene Pietropaoli</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>08/04/2014</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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