On the night of 2/3 December 1984 the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, released toxic gasses that led to the worst industrial accident in human history. Estimates of deaths caused by the gas are between 12,000 and 15,000. In addition, the Government of India claims that there were more than 500,000 injuries directly related to the incident.
In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former company chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by law. The sentences are, of course, now under appeal. More cases are still “pending” in US courts 26 years after the event.
In 1989, a settlement was reached under which the company agreed to pay US$470 million (the insurance sum, plus interest) in a full and final settlement of its civil and criminal liability. In other words, this immense human tragedy cost the company nothing.
Capitalism at its best.