Lawsuits Can Be Combined, Judicial Panel Says
Undated (AP) _ WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judicial panel ruled today that 18 lawsuits filed in the United States in the Union Carbide gas leak tragedy in India would be combined and the litigation heard in the U.S. District Court in New York City.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, based here, said the federal court in Manhattan ″will best serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.″
The panel, with six of its seven members voting, noted that Union Carbide is a New York corporation and necessary witnesses and documents could be found at its headquarters in nearby Danbury, Conn.
The panel said the Manhattan court is the busiest among the 94 federal district courts and ″is ... relatively more convenient for many parties, including plaintiffs and defendant Union Carbide and witnesses.″
The panel assigned U.S. District Judge John F. Kennan to the pretrial proceedings.
Six lawsuits in the case have been filed in federal courts in Manhattan; four in Charleston, W.Va.; four in Connecticut and one each in Philadelphia; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago, and Miami.
On Dec. 3, there was a leak of methyl isocyanate gas in Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bophal, India, killing at least 2,000 people and affecting 100,000 others.