If Successful, Fukushima Class Actions Could Wipe Out GE


     (CN) - General Electric faces two multibillion-dollar class actions from people hurt by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and its aftermath, who say GE and GE-Hitachi failed to properly design and maintain the power plant.
     One 2-page summons and notice in New York County Supreme Court demands compensatory damages of at least $3 million per plaintiff, but does not estimate the size of the class.
     No one died in the radiation leak set off by a tsunami, but more than 100,000 people were evacuated.
     At $3 million apiece, damages would come to $300 billion.
     If granted, such an award could wipe out General Electric, which Forbes calls the second-largest company in the world.
     GE has 10 billion shares outstanding, and is trading at about $26, giving it a market capitalization of about $260 billion.
     Lead plaintiff Mitsuru Okura gave notice to General Electric Company, GE-Hitachi Energy Holdings LLC, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International, and ABC Corps. 1-50.
     Okura claims that GE's improper design, construction, assembly, testing, maintenance and modifications of the reactors and other facilities at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused explosions and a meltdown at the plant after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.
     The plant released radiation and other contaminants into the environment, causing Okura and other class members "personal injury, mental anguish, emotional distress, property damage, business interruption, loss of business, loss of income, economic injuries, and ongoing long-term physical, mental and emotional health problems," according to the document.
     Okura will seek damages for negligence, recklessness, product liability, defect liability, strict liability and concealment against GE.
     Also, in their role as claimants against other potentially responsible entities, the class will seek contribution, indemnification and subrogation arising out of GE's breach of contract, including failure to disclose appropriation information to Tokyo Electric Power Company.
     Another summons and notice for class action against the same defendants was filed by Sasaki Body Ltd. and Mihana Ltd., seeking $5 million in damages per class member.
     Okura is represented by Jeffrey Schreiber with Meister, Seelig & Fein.