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Oxy offers up to W350m in compensation for victims

[THE INVESTOR] Household goods manufacturer Oxy Reckitt-Benckiser announced Sunday that it would provide up to 350 million won ($315,000) in compensation each to Korean victims of its lethal humidifier sanitizers.

“The compensation package took into consideration the delay in preparing a proper response, and the severity of the issue (of the humidifier sanitizers’ danger),” the company said in a statement via its website, adding it would begin taking applications for compensation on Aug.1.

 
Atar Safdar, the head of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea (center).
Atar Safdar, the head of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea (center).


Under the final plan, Oxy will compensate victims up to 350 million won if they were categorized by the government investigation as classes 1 or 2, meaning that it is highly likely that exposure to Oxy’s products led to their deaths.

The minimum compensation for all victims is 150 million won. But infant and child victims’ deaths will be compensated 1 billion won due to the severity of suffering and difficulty in calculating potential earning losses, the company said.

This compensation plan is nearly identical to the one the company presented last month following three rounds of talks with victims and their families.

The only major difference is that the new compensation plan offers additional compensation of 50 million won if there is more than one victim in the same household.

The final plan does not address the victims’ previous demands for compensation packages for victims named in categories 3 and 4, whose suffering was deemed less directly connected to Oxy‘s humidifier sanitizers.

The government investigation has identified 181 victims in categories 1 and 2 who used Oxy products, including 73 deaths.

Once the application process begins in August, each victim’s case will be analyzed by a task force made up of Oxy executives and employees to determine the final compensation sum. The factors considered will include previous and future medical costs, potential earnings lost and emotional distress. The details of the compensation plan will be made available to the public via the company‘s website starting Monday.

Meanwhile, the special parliamentary committee will continue its investigation into the parties involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the toxic sterilizers.

On Aug. 22, a task force made up of four representatives, including The Minjoo Party of Korea lawmaker Woo Won-shik, the chairman of the committee, will head to the U.K. to visit the headquarters of Oxy’s parent company Reckitt-Benckiser.

The on-site probe in the U.K. follows questioning in Korea of government officials in departments responsible for consumer safety, as well as executives of companies that sold toxic products, including Oxy.

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)
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