RCA as­sets enough to cover dam­ages: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - LOCAL -

In­vest­ment reg­u­la­tors said yes­ter­day that the Ra­dio Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­ica ( RCA) still has enough as­sets in Tai­wan to cover the NT$560 mil­lion in dam­ages awarded by a court to its for­mer em­ploy­ees in a land­mark class ac­tion against the now-de­funct firm.

Of­fi­cials from the Eco­nomics Min­istry’s In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion said RCA’s paid-in cap­i­tal alone amounts to more than NT$1 bil­lion.

The of­fi­cials said the com­mis­sion has not agreed to let RCA with­draw its in­vest­ment from Tai­wan, as the law­suit and mat­ters con­cern­ing the com­pen­sa­tion have yet to be com­pleted.

The de­fen­dants in the class ac­tion — namely RCA and the com­pa­nies that have taken it over — could still ap­peal the ver­dict handed down by the Taipei Dis­trict Court on Thurs­day.

The dis­trict court, con­clud­ing a decade-long law­suit, ruled in fa­vor of 445 for­mer RCA work­ers and their fam­i­lies, de­ter­min­ing that the com­pany ex­posed the em­ploy­ees to toxic sub­stances by il­le­gally dis­pos­ing of chem­i­cals used at a Taoyuan plant.

Many of its for­mer em­ploy­ees have con­tracted or died of can­cer.

“I hope the gov­ern­ment can show more con­cern to la­bor­ers,” said one of the lawyers, Lee Pinghung, rep­re­sent­ing the RCA em­ploy­ees in the class ac­tion. “We urge the de­fen­dants not to ap­peal against the ver­dict.”

Lee said the RCA case is the only law­suit he has worked on since be­com­ing a lawyer in the 2000s. He was the first ever blind per­son to pass the bar exam in Tai­wan.

Lee said he feels hon­ored to be able to play a part in the RCA case, and he has huge re­spect for his se­ri­ously ill clients who had to face crit­i­cal ques­tion­ing by the judges dur­ing the trial.

He said he was determined to help the plain­tiffs af­ter see­ing how RCA and its co-de­fen­dants ig­nored them.

Lee was born blind but his par­ents man­aged to raise him as an “or­di­nary” child, who went on to fin­ish uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion, be­come a lawyer and also pass the civil ser­vice exam.

The plain­tiffs have so far not made an of­fi­cial state­ment in re­sponse to the ver­dict, and it re­mains un­cer­tain whether they will ap­peal to the high court.

RCA ran man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in Tai­wan be­tween 1970 and 1992, em­ploy­ing thou­sands of work­ers at its plants in Taoyuan, Hs­inchu and Yi­lan.

In 1998, the en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties found that its for­mer plant site in Taoyuan was se­ri­ously con­tam­i­nated with chlo­ri­nated or­ganic sol­vents and other toxic chem­i­cals that the com­pany had il­le­gally dumped into wells it had dug.

The toxic wa­ter then con­tam­i­nated tap wa­ter that work­ers con­sumed.

The 7.2-hectare plant site has to this day re­mained closed and un­us­able, de­spite ef­forts to clean the land.

RCA was bought by Gen­eral Elec­tric, and sub­se­quently by Thom­son Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics, the U. S. sub­sidiary of France­based Thom­son Mul­ti­me­dia, which is now called Technicolor SA.


Lee Ping-hung, right, one of the at­tor­neys who helped for­mer RCA em­ploy­ees win a land­mark class-ac­tion suit against the now-de­funct com­pany, speaks to the me­dia in Taipei. The RCA law­suit is the only case that this young lawyer has ever han­dled since be­com­ing the na­tion’s first-ever blind at­tor­ney in the 2000s.

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