BHP Billiton is being sued for about $5 billion for its part in the Samarco dam collapse in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in November 2015 that left 19 people dead and nearby communities devastated.
U.K.-based SPG law firm filed the class action in Liverpool high court on Monday, May 6. The plaintiffs include 240,000 individuals, 24 municipal governments, 11,000 businesses, a Catholic archdiocese and the Krenak indigenous community.
According to the law firm, a civil case was filed in Brazilian courts, but it believes a more fair and speedy compensation can be found in Britain.
SPG said it will seek 10 to 20 times the damages being offered to individuals in Brazil.
Tom Goodhead of SPG Law firm said many of the plaintiffs suffered catastrophic losses, but have received almost no compensation after three years in violation of Brazilian law, which says full damages should be paid and the environment be completely restored after an accident.
The lawsuit claims BHP failed to act on repeated warnings from independent experts about the dam’s integrity.
BHP said it has been served with legal proceedings and that it will defend the claim.
The Fundao tailings dam is owned by Samarco Mineração S.A., which is a joint venture of BHP Billiton Brasil Ltda and Vale S.A. Operations were shut down following the disaster and have not resumed.