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Negligence suit over Bangladesh garment factory deaths dismissed


A Delaware judge has dismissed litigation filed against three retailers in connection with the April 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh that killed 1,129, saying the case had been filed after the statute of limitations ran out, and furthermore they could not be held liable for the tragedy.

Judge Mary M. Johnston, of Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington, said in her ruling Wednesday that Bangladesh’s one-year statute of limitations applied in the case.

The litigation in Abdur Rahaman et al. v. J.C. Penney Co. Inc., The Children’s Place and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was originally filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on April 23, 2015, or just under two years after the April 24, 2013, collapse.

The negligence and wrongful death case had been filed by Mr. Rahaman as a personal representative of Sharifa Belgum, whose wife died in the collapse, and Mahamudul Hasan Hridoy, who was injured.

Plaintiffs in the case had argued that Delaware’s two-year statute of limitations should apply. But defendants in the case successfully argued that Bangladesh law, with its one-year statute of limitations, applies to the dispute because Bangladesh had the most significant relationship to the causes of action asserted in the litigation.

“While Bangladesh courts may carve out exceptions to limitations periods where they find that justice so requires, this court will not disturb such a period where the plain reading of the statute provides a clear answer,” said Judge Johnston in her ruling.

Judge Johnston also held the defendants could not be charged with negligence or wrongful death in connection with the tragedy. “Plaintiffs in this case have failed to allege acts to establish that defendants owed plaintiffs a duty of care,” said the ruling.

“Defendants were not plaintiffs’ direct employer. Additionally, plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that an exception to the general rule for independent contractor liability exists,” said the judge in granting defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.

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