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Fourteen years of proceedings

Aware that a trial in France would not compel Amoco Transport to pay, the State, the local authorities and the victims of the pollution decided to prosecute its parent company, Amoco International Oil Company, a subsidiary of the powerful Standard Oil of Indiana company and went to New York and Chicago for this purpose. A gigantic legal struggle began. On one side was the French State, two “départements” (French administrative divisions), ninety villages, thousands of people gathered in associations, a few scientists and a handful of lawyers. On the other side, the Amoco group lined up hundreds of lawyers and experts including a Nobel prize winner in economics.
 After a 14-year long combat, a first decision in 1988 with further rectification in 1992, Amoco paid at last. The French State and the local authorities incurred great expenses and had to provide half a million documents for the court. First, they claimed a little more than a billion Francs (152 million euros). The decision rendered in 1990 awarded them 340 million Francs (51 million euros) which meant 695 million Francs (105 million euros) with interest. The rectification decision in 1992, which revalued both damages and the late interest rate, raised the total amount to 1.25 billion Francs (190 million euros). Despite hopes, no compensation was awarded for ecological damage.

The question was to be raised once again thirty years later, at the Erika court case.

Last update on 20/02/2008
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