Shell/BASF lawsuit (re Brazil)


Pesticide spray via thermoscientific.comIn March 2007, the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and several workers’ associations filed a lawsuit
 against Shell Brazil and BASF alleging that workers employed at and living near a pesticide plant, first owned by Shell and then by BASF, suffered cancers and other severe health problems as a result of land and groundwater contamination around the plant.  The claim, in Paulínia Labour Court, São Paulo, sought compensation for their illnesses and suffering as well as recovery of medical costs. 

In January 2009, the court granted an interim injunction in favour of the plaintiffs, ordering Shell and BASF to pay for medical treatment of all of its former employees and their families.  On 19 August 2010, the court upheld its earlier injunction and ordered the defendants to pay R$64,500 (US$36,700) in compensation to each former worker and any of their children born during or after their service at the factory.  The defendants were also ordered to pay R$ 622 million (US$354 million), in collective compensation for “danos morais” (“moral damages”), into a Worker Protection Fund.  Both defendants appealed the decision.  BASF argued it was not responsible for the damage to workers’ health because it acquired the plant and the contaminated land after the pollution had occurred.  Shell denied any links between its operations and the harms to workers.  On appeal, the São Paulo Labour Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.  In March 2012 Shell and BASF were in settlement talks to determine who should pay the Brazilian damages.  In February 2013 the São Paulo Labour Court reported that Shell and BASF had offered the plaintiffs a settlement -- lifelong health plans for each, worth about US$26 million.  The parties agreed to a final settlement in March 2013 worth about 620 million reais (US$316 million). 

- "Shell, BASF agree to pay-out over Brazil chemical contamination", Peter Murphy, Reuters, 11 Mar 2013
- "Shell, BASF offer Brazilian workers millions in class action settlement", Associated Press, 19 Feb 2013
- "BASF, Shell in talks to settle $653 Million Brazil Contamination Penalty", Sheenagh Matthews, Bloomberg, 1 Mar 2012
- [Portuguese] “Presidente do TST concede liminar em causa bilionária”, (“President of the Supreme Labour Court grants injunction in billionaire case”), Jornal Jurid, 15 Sep 2010
- [Portuguese] “Justiça do Trabalho reduz multa bilionária imposta à Shell e à Basf”, (“Labour Court reduces billionaire fine to Shell and Basf”), Notícia 23, 10 Sep 2010
- “Thousands exposed to Shell's toxic waste in Brazil”, Johan van Slooten, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 Aug 2010
- “Shell, Basf Ordered to Pay $354 Million in Brazil Plant Contamination Case”, Laura Price, Bloomberg, 20 Aug 2010
- [Portuguese] ”STJ mantém ação civil da prefeitura de Paulínia (SP) contra a Shell” (“Labour Court decides to proceed  in the Paulinia civil action against Shell”), EcoAgência, 28 Apr 2010
- [Portuguese] “Justiça exige que Shell e Basf custeiem tratamento médico de ex-trabalhadores” (“Justice demands that Shell and Basf pay medical treatment to former employers”), EcoDebate, 12 Apr 2010
- [Portuguese] “Ministério Público do Trabalho move ação contra Shell e Basf” (“Ministry of Labour files a lawsuit against Shell and Basf”), Folha, 9 Mar 2007

- [Portuguese]BASF: “Posicionamento – Caso Shell / Paulínia (“Statment – Shell/Paulina case”), Marina Galvão, 20 Aug 2010
- [PDF] [Portuguese] “Shell e Basf são condenadas ao pagamento de R$ 622 milhões; empresas devem pagar tratamento de saúde e indenização individual a ex-trabalhadores”, Procuradoria Regional do Trabalho da 15 Região [press release from the Office of the Regional Labour Attorney], 2 Sep 2010

- [Portuguese] Supreme Labour Court’s decision, 5 Nov 2010
- [PDF] [Portuguese] Paulínia Labour Court judgment, 19 Aug 2010

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Lawsuit
17 February 2014

Shell/BASF lawsuit (re Brazil)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In March 2007, the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and several workers’ associations filed a lawsuitagainst Shell Brazil and BASF alleging that workers employed at and living near a pesticide plant, first owned by Shell and then by BASF, suffered cancers and other severe health problems as a result of land and groundwater contamination around the plant.  The claim, in Paulínia Labour Court, São Paulo, sought compensation for their illnesses and suffering as well as recovery of medical costs.

In January 2009, the court granted an interim injunction in favour of the plaintiffs, ordering Shell and BASF to pay for medical treatment of all of its former employees and their families.  On 19 August 2010, the court upheld its earlier injunction and ordered the defendants to pay R$64,500 (US$36,700) in compensation to each former worker and any of their children born during or after their service at the factory.  The defendants were also ordered to pay R$ 622 million (US$354 million), in collective compensation for “danos morais” (“moral damages”), into a Worker Protection Fund.  Both defendants appealed the decision.  BASF argued it was not responsible for the damage to workers’ health because it acquired the plant and the contaminated land after the pollution had occurred.  Shell denied any links between its operations and the harms to workers.  On appeal, the São Paulo Labour Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.  In March 2012 Shell and BASF were in settlement talks to determine who should pay the Brazilian damages.  In February 2013 the São Paulo Labour Court reported that Shell and BASF had offered the plaintiffs a settlement -- lifelong health plans for each, worth about US$26 million.  The parties agreed to a final settlement in March 2013 worth about 620 million reais (US$316 million).

- "Shell, BASF agree to pay-out over Brazil chemical contamination", Peter Murphy, Reuters, 11 Mar 2013
- "Shell, BASF offer Brazilian workers millions in class action settlement", Associated Press, 19 Feb 2013
- "BASF, Shell in talks to settle $653 Million Brazil Contamination Penalty", Sheenagh Matthews, Bloomberg, 1 Mar 2012
- [Portuguese] “Presidente do TST concede liminar em causa bilionária”, (“President of the Supreme Labour Court grants injunction in billionaire case”), Jornal Jurid, 15 Sep 2010
- [Portuguese] “Justiça do Trabalho reduz multa bilionária imposta à Shell e à Basf”, (“Labour Court reduces billionaire fine to Shell and Basf”), Notícia 23, 10 Sep 2010
- “Thousands exposed to Shell's toxic waste in Brazil”, Johan van Slooten, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 Aug 2010
- “Shell, Basf Ordered to Pay $354 Million in Brazil Plant Contamination Case”, Laura Price, Bloomberg, 20 Aug 2010
- [Portuguese] ”STJ mantém ação civil da prefeitura de Paulínia (SP) contra a Shell” (“Labour Court decides to proceed  in the Paulinia civil action against Shell”), EcoAgência, 28 Apr 2010
- [Portuguese] “Justiça exige que Shell e Basf custeiem tratamento médico de ex-trabalhadores” (“Justice demands that Shell and Basf pay medical treatment to former employers”), EcoDebate, 12 Apr 2010
- [Portuguese] “Ministério Público do Trabalho move ação contra Shell e Basf” (“Ministry of Labour files a lawsuit against Shell and Basf”), Folha, 9 Mar 2007

- [Portuguese]BASF: “Posicionamento – Caso Shell / Paulínia (“Statment – Shell/Paulina case”), Marina Galvão, 20 Aug 2010
- [PDF] [Portuguese] “Shell e Basf são condenadas ao pagamento de R$ 622 milhões; empresas devem pagar tratamento de saúde e indenização individual a ex-trabalhadores”, Procuradoria Regional do Trabalho da 15 Região [press release from the Office of the Regional Labour Attorney], 2 Sep 2010

- [Portuguese] Supreme Labour Court’s decision, 5 Nov 2010
- [PDF] [Portuguese] Paulínia Labour Court judgment, 19 Aug 2010

Article
28 November 2013

How about a SLAPP for your trouble?

Author: Sudeep Chakravarti, Livemint.com (India)

Strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP, is one of several retaliatory mechanisms increasingly used against defenders of human rights…The Resource Centre discusses these and other matters and provides a global situation report in its 2013 annual briefing on corporate legal accountability…Its…list of case studies…contains recent and ongoing accusations and legal debates of various kinds of human rights violations…attributed to a total of 52 companies across the world. It is of little surprise that human rights lawyers and activists would get SLAPPed about, as it were, or face the legal weight of businesses that far outweigh their own. The stakes, both in perception and finance, are immense…[T]he briefing adds directional value by flagging issues that it expects will affect this space…This is happening, and will happen, in countries where infractions and crimes are perceived as being committed; and in countries where such businesses are headquartered or invested…[Refers to adidas, Anvil Mining (part of China Minmetals), BASF, China Minmetals, Daimler, Danzer, Dow Chemical, Ford, Lonmin, Shell, Tate & Lyle, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Vedanta Resources, Vinci]

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Article
9 June 2013

[PDF] Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin – Issue 9, June 2013

Author: Compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Welcome to the 9th issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. To assist all those following corporate legal accountability issues, we send this bulletin to highlight key developments, new cases profiled on our site, updates to existing profiles, and other news. Our Corporate Legal Accountability Portal is an online information hub providing resources for non-lawyers as well as lawyers – including victims, advocates, NGOs, businesspeople, lawyers bringing lawsuits against companies and lawyers defending companies. The portal provides impartial, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged – its aim is to demystify these lawsuits. Each case profile includes materials from both the plaintiffs and defendants, to the extent they are available.[Refers to adidas, Agua Mineral Chusmiza, Alstom, Areva, BASF, BP, CACI, Chevron, Chiquita, Drummond, DynCorp, ExxonMobil, HudBay Minerals, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Rio Tinto, Shell, Tate & Lyle, Texaco (part of Chevron), Titan (now L-3), Vedanta Resources, Veolia Transport (part of Veolia Environnement)]

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Article
12 March 2013

Shell, BASF agree to pay-out over Brazil chemical contamination

Author: Peter Murphy, Reuters

Oil producer Shell and German chemical company BASF agreed on Monday to pay compensation that could reach 620 million reais ($316 million) to workers exposed over three decades to toxic chemicals at a Brazil plant, prosecutors said…The companies have agreed to pay individual compensation to 1,068 former workers at the plant and provide them with lifetime medical care, which prosecutors estimated could total up to 420 million reais. Shell and BASF would also make a separate 200 million reais payment for collective moral damages which would be used to build a maternity clinic in Paulinia and for donations to special health centers. Shell has maintained throughout the case, brought in 2007, that it believed there was no link between the operations at the plant and injury to workers' health, but it said it regretted the environmental contamination that occurred. Seventy-six workers pursuing individual court action must also decide within 30 days whether to take the compensation offer which would require them to drop their own cases…

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Article
19 February 2013

Shell, BASF Offer Brazilian Workers Millions in Class Action Settlement

Author: Associated Press

Shell Brasil SA and BASF SA have offered more than $20 million to settle a class action lawsuit with former workers allegedly contaminated at a pesticide plant in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil's top labor court said Friday. The court said on its website that the two companies have offered to provide 884 workers with lifelong health plans with a "global value" of 52 million reals ($26 million). Representatives of the two companies and workers are scheduled to meet again at the end of a month to discuss the proposal, the court said.

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Article
4 July 2012

Brazil’s top labor court knocks down request for BASF, Shell contamination fund payment

Author: Associated Press

Brazil’s top labor court has knocked down a judge’s order that Shell Brasil...and BASF...deposit $382 million into a fund for workers allegedly contaminated at a chemicals plant. An emailed statement from the court...says its lead judge ruled a day earlier in favor of an appeal against immediate payment. A class-action lawsuit seeking compensation from the companies remains before the labor court. A federal judge...ordered the subsidiaries of Royal Dutch Shell...and BASF...to pay into the fund now. Prosecutors sought the order, saying the cash should be immediately available in case workers win the overall lawsuit. Both Shell and BASF welcomed the new ruling and say they will abide by all legal decisions in the case.

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Article
1 March 2012

BASF, Shell in Talks to Settle $653 Million Brazil Contamination Penalty

Author: Sheenagh Matthews, Bloomberg

BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical maker, is in talks with Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) to determine who should pay a 490 million-euro ($653 million) fine for contamination in Brazil. The site in Paulinia was “significantly” contaminated by the production of crop protection products, and BASF and Shell were jointly ordered in August 2010 to pay damages to former employees for medical treatment and personal suffering, BASF said in its 2011 annual report. BASF said its Brazilian unit filed a lawsuit against Shell on March 30, asking a court to declare that Shell is responsible for the full amount of the damages resulting from the contamination at Paulinia. The two companies are in settlement talks, Ludwigshafen, Germany-based BASF said.

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Article
20 August 2010

Shell, Basf ordered to pay $354 million in Brazil plant contamination case

Author: Laura Price, Bloomberg

The Brazilian units of Basf SE and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. were fined a total of 622 million reais ($354 million) after former workers suffered health problems because of contamination at a plant in Paulinia, Sao Paulo state, from the 1970s to 2002. Basf SA and Shell do Brasil will also have to pay 64,500 reais in damages to each former worker and any children born during or after their service at the plant...Basf and Shell both said they will appeal the decision. “We are of the opinion that the environmental damage was caused by Shell, and we will appeal the decision,” [said] Jennifer Moore-Braun, a spokeswoman for Basf...Kim Blomley, a spokesman at Shell...said...“We are convinced there is no link between our operations and injury to people’s health..." [also refers to Cyanamid]

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Article
20 August 2010

Thousands exposed to Shell's toxic waste in Brazil

Author: Johan van Slooten, Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Former workers at a Brazilian chemical plant operated by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell are relieved that a court has ordered the company to pay hundreds of millions of euros in compensation for their exposure to toxic substances. Workers at the plant suffered health problems including high blood pressure and cancer. The factory in the Paulinia district of São Paulo, founded by Shell in 1977 and later taken over by German chemical giant BASF, was closed down in 2002. The court ruled that Shell and BASF should help pay for the treatment of physical and mental health problems suffered by the ex-workers and their families.

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