An appellate court had ruled that Samsung Electronics Co is to blame for the leukaemia deaths of two of its former production line employees, upholding a lower court’s landmark decision three years ago.
In 2011, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favour of the families of the two female employees who died of acute leukaemia after working at Samsung’s semiconductor production lines.
Samsung was ordered to pay compensation to their families in the court decision that marked the first official acknowledgment of a link between leukaemia deaths and exposure to cancer-causing substances at plants operated by the firm.
Samsung appealed the decision, but the Seoul High Court confirmed the lower court’s ruling that it was responsible for the deaths of the two women, named as Hwang and Lee.
“During their work, Hwang and Lee are likely to have had exposure to cancer-causing substances like benzene or radiation,” the appellate court said. “Although the process of how they got the disease was not medically or scientifically verified, it is possible to assume the correlation between their work and their leukaemia.”
SHARPS, an advocacy group representing workers who believe their health has been damaged by their work at Samsung Electronics, said that up to 70 workers have died of leukaemia or brain tumours after working at the electronics firm.
After years of denying its responsibility, the electronics giant made an official apology in May and reopened negotiations with the families of some of the victims. But not much progress has been made so far.