일본요코하마 노동자석면피해소송 패소
일본 수도권지역의 건설노동자들이 제기한 석면피해 민사소송에서 원고패소 결정이 내려졌다. 2012년 5월25일 일본 요코하마 지방법원은 87명의 전직 목수, 배관공과 사망유족들이 국가와 44개 석면건축자재 제조회사를 상대로 29억엔(약425억원)의 손해배상청구 소송에서 원고들이 일한 곳이 여러 곳이어서 석면에 노출된 작업장을 특정하기 어렵다는 이유로 원고패소를 결정했다.
피해자들은 1960년대부터 수십년간 석면건축자재가 사용된 건축현장 등에서 일하면서 석면에 노출되어 폐암 등 석면관련질환에 걸린 석면피해자들이다. 원고들은 국가가 석면의 위험성을 알면서도 제대로 안전관리를 하지 않아 석면질환에 걸리는 피해를 입었다고 주장했으나 법원은 당시의 정부규제가 불합리했다고 보기 어렵다고 판단했다. 이와 유사한 내용의 소송이 일본 전역 6개 지역(사뽀로, 도쿄, 시주오카, 오사카, 후무오카 등)에서 진행중인데 이중 도쿄의 경우 오는 9월 판결이 나올 예정이어 주목된다.
(마이니치 신문 2012년 5월26일자 기사내용)
<사진, 2010년 2월 일본 동경 신주쿠거리에서 열린 일본석면추방전국연락회의와 석면피해자협회가 주최한 석면피해자대회>
A background information
Another judgment by the Tokyo District Court will be made in this September.
Court rejects damages suit by construction workers on asbestos exposure
YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) -- A court turned down a damages suit on Friday filed by a group of plaintiffs including carpenters and plumbers over their suffering of diseases such as lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos at construction sites for decades since 1960.
The ruling by the Yokohama District Court is the first judicial judgment on compensation for asbestos-induced health damage to such construction laborers who had been working at various sites, which means it is difficult to specify when and where they inhaled the material.
In similar suits over health damage to factory workers, many court rulings have ordered the side of employers to pay damages as it is easier to determine where the workers inhaled asbestos.
In the suit at the Yokohama court, a total of 87 people including carpenters and plumbers as well as relatives of workers who already died of asbestos-related diseases demanded the government and 44 makers of building materials pay a total of 2.9 billion yen in damages.
The plaintiffs argued that the government and the manufacturers were aware of the danger of asbestos but failed to take necessary action to prevent the workers from being exposed to asbestos.
In Friday's decision, however, the court said the government's regulations on asbestos cannot be said to be unreasonable from the standpoint of knowledge at that time.
Similar suits involving people who worked at various construction sites are pending at six districts courts in Sapporo, Tokyo, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka. In September, the Tokyo District Court is expected to hand down its decision.
May 26, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
Court Rejects Asbestos Damages Claim by Construction Workers
Yokohama, May 25 (Jiji Press)--Yokohama District Court on Friday rejected a damages claim led by former construction workers suffering from lung cancer and other health problems due to asbestos at construction sites.
The former workers were among the 87 plaintiffs that filed the suit seeking 2,887.5 million yen in damages from the government and 44 construction materials makers in Japan. The plaintiffs also included bereaved families of workers who had died after developing health problems.
The Yokohama litigation was the first to receive a ruling in a series of similar damages suits filed over recent years by asbestos victims in places including Tokyo, Hokkaido and Osaka prefectures.
A key point in the suits is whether the government and construction materials makers should be held responsible for health problems developed by independent contract workers who worked at many construction sites.
In conventional asbestos damages suits, most filed against the operators of asbestos-handling plants by those who had worked there, it is easier to establish a relationship between the disease and the workplace environment.