May 09 2012
In 1998 a ship called the Bahamas was hired to carry sulphuric acid for three companies located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. While berthed, the ship began to discharge the dangerous chemical. The discharge to the first receiver had already been concluded when, on August 30, it was observed that the ship was no longer operating. Port authorities went aboard and ascertained that a serious leak of sulphuric acid was heading towards the Patos Lagoon, where the terminal was located (for further details please see "Salvage company and insurer held accountable for environmental civil action").
A suit for civil liability was filed against the parties considered potentially responsible for the accident. In its ruling the first instance federal court decided, among other things, that:
The court ordered the companies jointly to pay the sum of R20 million immediately. It stated that this amount would not harm or impair the activities of the liable companies, but would be sufficient to prevent the further occurrence of damages.
One of the companies receiving the cargo filed an interlocutory appeal at the Fourth Region Federal Court, requesting suspension of the judgment until the decision became final, alleging that it had no financial capacity to shoulder the payment.(1)
The appellate judge confirmed the first instance decision. He held that the appellant company presented no evidence to support the allegation of lack of financial capacity to pay the indemnity. He also pointed out that the company's financial results in 2009 were well above the amount of the award.
The appealed decision was therefore maintained with the stipulation of immediate payment of the award, once the risk of irreparable damage for the company was absent. Furthermore, the court stated that as the companies were found jointly liable, the payment of the award must be split between the three defendants.
ILO provides online commentaries as specialist Legal Newsletters. Written in collaboration with over 500 of the world's leading experts and covering more than 100 jurisdictions, it delivers individually requested information via email to an influential global audience of law firm partners and international corporate counsel. Please click here to register for the service.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
ILO is a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. In-house corporate counsel and other users of legal services, as well as law firm partners, qualify for a free subscription. Register at www.iloinfo.com.