The victims of melamine poisoning and their families suffered a major legal setback when their suit against Sanlu was rejected by the Hebei Higher People’s Court, the South China Morning Post reported. The 63 victims and their families in Hebei, assisted by lawyers acting without payment, were seeking US$1 million in damages from Sanlu, which they accused of producing milk products tainted with toxic levels of melamine. The court chief, however, told the families that the case could not be accepted because authorities were still investigating the issue. Under mainland civil procedure law, a court has seven days to decide whether to accept a case, but it should accept cases if there is an identifiable defendant, substantial cause and if the court has jurisdiction. The Ministry of Health announced last week that 290,000 babies developed kidney disorders from the tainted milk powder, six times the original estimate released in September. Six children have died. Individual lawsuits brought by parents against Sanlu since September have all been rejected.
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