Plaintiffs in plasticizer lawsuit awarded nearly NT$4 million

Taipei, Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against a group of food product suppliers were on Friday awarded nearly NT$4 million (US$13,115) in damages Friday.

The Supreme Court upheld the NT$3.94 million in compensation awarded by the Taiwan High Court against 18 companies found to have produced or used clouding agents that contained the banned substance di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, commonly known as DEHP.

The additive was used in products such as sports drinks, juices, teas, fruit jams and syrups, tablets and powders.

The class action lawsuit was initially filed by the Consumers' Foundation in March 2012 on behalf of more than 500 consumers, seeking a record NT$7.87 billion in damages from 37 companies, including Yu Shen Chemical Co. and Pin Han Perfumery Co., the two manufacturers of DEHP-tainted clouding agents.

However, during the legal process some of the businesses reached settlements with more than half of the consumers, and the foundation subsequently lowered its claim to NT$2.4 billion.

In October 2013, the New Taipei District Court ruled that 18 companies should pay NT$1.27 million in compensation to the remaining plaintiffs, arguing that plasticizers are excreted from the human body 24-72 hours after ingestion and are not harmful to people's health.

Following an appeal by the Consumers' Foundation, the Taiwan High Court ruled in August 2016 that long-term consumption of plasticizers can disrupt the human endocrine system, causing health problems.

Companies must be held accountable and compensate consumers for supplying products that fail to meet government health and safety standards, the high court said in its verdict, awarding a total of NT$3.94 million.

However, the Consumers Foundation was dissatisfied with the decision and filed another appeal, which was rejected by the Supreme Court Friday.

The Supreme Court ruling is final and cannot be appealed.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel