Court rules not all Chuang Guang tainted-oil victims can receive compensation

Kaohsiung District Court rules only 160 victims of Chuang Guang tainted-oil incident are eligible for compensation

20 years in jail for oil scandal executives

People standing in front of a wall of edible oil cans in 2015.

Taipei (Taiwan News)—The compensation the Kaohsiung District Court ruled Chuang Guang Co. (強冠公司) should hand out to 160 victims from an edible oil scandal three years ago was a far cry from the amount demanded by the Consumer Protection Association (CPA) in its class-action lawsuit. 

The Kaohsiung District Court ruled only 160 out of the 230 tainted-oil victims were eligible to receive NT$6,000-9,000 (US$194.63-291.99) in compensation each, amounting to a total award sum of NT$1.33 million.

Kaohsiung court's ruling falls short of the NT$180,000 the CPA sought per victim in its original class-action suit filed against the company in 2015, which would have required Chuang Guang to shell out a total of NT$3.7 billion in compensation.

The CPC was commissioned by teachers and students from 96 schools that consumed gutter-oil found in school lunches to seek compensation from four producers, Chuang Guang, Ting Tsin International Group (TTIG), TTIG subsidiary Cheng I Food, and Bei-hai Oil (北海油脂).

The combined number of students and teachers that fell victim to Taiwan's largest edible oil scandal reached 20,621.

The manufacturers were accused of using ingredients unfit for human consumption, including oil extracted from restaurant waste or oil found in animal feeds.

The commissions' compensation calculations were based on the Food Safety and Sanitation Regulations Act and the Consumer Protection Act, and included damages and compensation for mental anguish.

Chuang Guang arrived at a settlement out of court with 3,811 out of its 4,087 victims, with help from the CPA, most victims were willing to settle for NT$6,000 each last July.

The company should have paid a total of NT$22.86 million to those who agreed to the settlement, but they have yet to receive the money they were promised, said Hsu Pang-han, deputy secretary-general of CPA.

The remaining 237 victims that refused to settle out of court chose to press on with the class-action suit.

The Kaohsiung District Court judge, however, eliminated the number of victims qualifying for compensation to 160 by removing vegetarians in the group who could not provide evidence of consuming Chuang Guang's lard products.

The court based the amount of compensation awarded to victims on the level of lard content in dumplings, braised pork with red onions, or spring onion-flavored bread, which were NT$6,000, NT$8,400 and NT$9,000, respectively. Spring onion breads contained the largest amount of sub-standard lard.

The Kaohsiung District Court ruling can still be appealed.