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Chinese families plan lawsuit in milk scandal

March 04, 2009|Associated Press

BEIJING — For months, courts across China refused to accept the lawsuits from families whose children were killed or sickened by tainted milk. Now, in a turnaround, hundreds of families are planning to file suit after the country's highest court said this week that cases would be accepted.

The move signals a change in the way Beijing is handling fallout from the scandal, which involved melamine-contaminated infant formula that killed at least six babies and sickened nearly 300,000 with kidney stones and kidney failure. A government-sanctioned compensation plan had been expected to ease public anger, but instead it gave embittered, outspoken parents across China a common cause.

"There will be lawsuits against all 22 dairy companies," said Zhao Lianhai, who has rallied victims' parents through a website he created.

He said that the 600-plus families involved want compensation for emotional harm as well as medical and other expenses -- demands that go beyond the government's onetime payouts.

But it was not clear how the government planned to handle the cases.

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