Three Gorges Probe

Lawsuit against U.S. firm to be heard next month

Three Gorges Probe
November 19, 2001

The widow of a worker killed two years ago today in a fall from a U.S.-made machine on the Three Gorges dam site is to have her case against the company heard on Dec. 4, China Daily has reported.

Ke Changli is suing Rotec Industries Inc., based in Elmhurst, Ill., for 3.46 million yuan RMB (US$420,000) in compensation for her husband’s death. The Yichang Intermediate People’s Court, which originally rejected the lawsuit in March, has been ordered by the Hubei High People’s Court to hear the case again, the newspaper reported.

Machine operator Ke Shanlin fell to his death on Nov. 19, 1999, when the door of an elevator in which he was riding suddenly opened. The elevator was attached to a tower crane made by the U.S. company, which has manufactured conveyor systems being used to transport concrete on the Three Gorges site.

Deng Yiping, a lawyer who has acted for Ms. Ke, said a report by the Yichang Labour Bureau concluded that defects in the design and manufacture of the machine were the main cause of the accident, China Daily reported.

A fatal accident the following year involved the same machine, the lawyer said. During repair work on the crane on Sept. 3, 2000, a conveyor belt snapped and heavy parts fell onto a group of workers below, killing three and injuring 30.

Rotec’s chief executive officer, Robert Oury, described that accident as “devastating,” but noted that the crane “was under the control” of Chinese concrete subcontractor Gezhouba at the time.

The Yichang-based Gezhouba Group, which employed both Ms. Ke and her husband, paid her more than 60,000 yuan RMB (US$7,250) in compensation after the 1999 accident, but she says she has received nothing from the U.S. company.

“I suffered a lot from this case. It seems to me that Rotec pays no attention to the life of my husband and other Chinese at all,” China Daily quoted Ms. Ke as saying.

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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