Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Chinese families of milk victims file suit: volunteer

AFP , BEIJING

More than 200 families in China with children who died or fell ill from drinking melamine-tainted milk have filed a suit with the Chinese supreme court seeking compensation, a volunteer helping them said yesterday.

The 213 families filed a suit on Friday against the 22 dairy companies at the heart of the public health disaster, after lower courts rejected their applications, said Lin Zheng (林征), who belongs to a support group for the families.

“Other courts have not accepted the case and haven’t even given a reply when the families have approached them,” he said.

The families, from 27 provinces and municipalities, want a total of 36 million yuan (US$5.3 million) from the dairies, with the families worst hit asking for 600,000 yuan in compensation, Lin said.

At least six children died and nearly 300,000 fell ill with kidney and urinary problems last year after they drank milk laced with the chemical melamine, in a scandal that was covered up and only came to light in September.

The industrial chemical, normally used to make plastic, was added to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein.

Twenty-two Chinese dairy firms were found to have sold the tainted milk and the government ordered them last month to pay a total of US$160 million in compensation to the families of babies that died or fell ill.

But the families that have filed the suit thought the compensation was too low, Lin said.

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