Thursday, May 2, 2019

Case of the Day: Bartel v. Tokyo Elec. Power. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34194 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2019)


Plaintiffs are members of the US Navy crew of USS Ronald Reagan and their dependents, who were allegedly exposed to radiation because of the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown during the Tohoku earthquake of March 2011. Plaintiffs brought action against the defendants TEPCO and GE for injuries. The court had previously dismissed a related litigation without prejudice, and the plaintiffs filed a new litigation with additional plaintiff members. The defendants again moved to dismiss.

The court granted motion to dismiss. The court first found that the previous case determined the court had no personal jurisdiction over TEPCO, and issue preclusion applied to this issue as to the plaintiffs who previously sued in the earlier litigation. Then the court found no personal jurisdiction as to the remaining plaintiffs. As to GE, the court applied the conflict of laws analysis, and applied the Japanese law that granted immunity to nuclear operators in case of a natural disaster.


Whenever there is a major disaster anywhere in the world, you can practically guarantee there will be a lawsuit in the United States not long thereafter. This one is particularly interesting, as it also involves the US military in Japan.

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