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How the Law Was Mobilized after the Harm Was Done: A Social-Legal Study of Yu Cheng (1979-1990)



Parallel abstracts

In 1979, the Yu Cheng (literally, "oil disease") disaster occurred in Taiwan. It became one of the most disastrous polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) poisonings ever recorded worldwide. The incident marked only the beginning of the suffering experienced by the victims exposed to these toxic chemicals. This study analyzes how people mobilized the law in various ways to speak for the injured. The author first examines how Yu Cheng moved from an incident to a dispute in which the government was the key agent. This study then investigates the self-help actions of the victims, who tended to mobilize the law outside the courts. For example, they petitioned to sue the government based on the State Compensation Law, while their real intent was to negotiate for a decent medical allowance. Finally, analyzing the court actions taken, the author finds that, however successful the litigation was at first, the Civil Code and the principles the court adopted eventually distorted the content of their claims and diverted the outcome away from the plaintiffs' wishes. The study ends by discussing the transformation of toxic harm torts in Taiwan between the 1980s and 2000s by comparing this case with two industrial hazard cases: RCA and Dioxin pollution.


《中央日報》(1980),〈食油中毒案昨天首次開庭審理被告否認使用多氯聯苯經銷商坦承批購販賣〉。1 月 25 日。
《中央日報》(1981),〈消費者基金會人員昨至神岡鄉訪多氯聯苯受害者決設基金提供服務〉,5 月 24 日。
《中央日報》(1981),〈處理多氯聯苯中毒者訴訟問題消費者文教基金會決設法律輔助小組〉,5 月 26 日。
《立法院公報》(1974a),〈審查食品衛生管理法草案〉。63(98): 8-15。
《立法院公報》(1974b),〈食品衛生管理法草案審查案廣泛討論〉。64(2): 17-39。