​Korean Supreme Court rules ex-Samsung employee leukemia cases not work related

South Korea's Supreme Court ruled against families of ex-Samsung employees who filed suit against the nation's welfare asking for compensation for work-related injuries.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

The Supreme Court of South Korea has ruled against families of ex-Samsung employees who died from leukemia who requested compensation for work-related injuries.

The Court accepted the appellate court's ruling against the three family members' claim that the cancers were caused from working at Samsung's semiconductor plant in the suit filed against Korea Worker's Compensation & Welfare Service.

Five family members first filed their application for work-related compensation to the service from 2007 to 2008 but were rejected on the grounds that there was no proof of causality between the cancers and working at Samsung's semiconductor plant.

The family members have alleged that working at Samsung's factory was the cause of the illnesses.

But the lower court and the appellate court, for three of the family members, said that it was hard to conclusively judge whether there was continuous exposure to hazardous chemicals and that it caused the terminal illnesses.

For the other two families, however, the courts said there was enough to judge that the exposure to the work environment may have been a catalyst for the cancers.

Since the first leukemia case was raised in 2007, and after years of denying responsibility for worker illnesses, the company apologised in 2014 and promised to compensate families of ex-employees. Since then, it has created an $85 million compensation fund and has been paying those affected.

It has formed a third-party auditing committee that will oversee Samsung's semiconductor operations to make sure they are hazard-safe.

Earlier this month, South Korea's labor ministry denied it was reopening its decision to deny access to information considered trade secret following inquiries made by ex-employee family members.

A Samsung spokesman declined to comment on the court's judgment.

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