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April 25, 2017

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RCA parent firms to pay NT$560 mil.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The decade-long lawsuit against the parent firms of Radio Corporation of America (RCA, 美奇異) bore results yesterday, as the Taipei District Court (台北地方法院) ordered RCA's current owners to compensate its former employees with a total of NT$560 million; concerns remain that the former employees will still walk away empty-handed.

The court announced that it deemed the RCA brand and four related companies' usage of carcinogenic ingredients, such as trichloroethane (三氯乙烷), trichloroethylene (三氯乙烯), tetrachloroethene (四氯乙烯) and dichloromethane (二氯甲烷), had a direct correlation to many of the former employees' cancer diagnoses.

General Electric (GE, 美奇異), Technicolor (formally Thomson SA), Technicolor U.S.A and Thomson Consumer Electronics (Bermuda) (百慕達Thomson) were ruled to be responsible in the lawsuit as well, due to their relationship with the RCA brand.

Highest Individual Compensation at NT$4.47 Million

The Taoyuan County Former RCA Employees' Solicitude Association (The Association, 社團法人桃園桃原台灣美國無限公司員工關懷協會) acted as the plaintiff in the case and successfully secured NT$560 million in compensation for nearly 450 employees of the 529 former RCA workers.

The highest compensation for an individual diagnosed with cancer was NT$4.47 million, with NT$1.53 million marked for individuals with a high risk of developing cancer and NT$1.68 million for those who had already succumbed to the disease.

Ineligible for Compensation

While former employees who worked at the RCA factory in Taoyuan were eligible for payment, workers at RCA facilities in Yilan and Hsinchu were deemed ineligible for compensation.

Other factors disqualifying workers from compensation included failure to take legal action during the designated time frame that was decided by RCA's parent firms or failure to take legal action within two years of a cancer diagnosis.

Ex-employees Could End Up Empty-handed

Despite the court's ruling, The Association's attorney Joseph Lin (林永頌) said that it is still possible The Association will not collect its compensation, as there are no funds being held in Taiwan under the RCA brand name.

RCA's parent firms closed down its factories in 1992, a few years after GE's takeover of RCA and subsequent sale to Thomson. In 1994, reports of pollution caused by the company began to circulate. By the time The Association held a provisional attachment over the RCA brand, the company had already transferred its funds out of Taiwan with help from representative lawyer Chen Chang-wen (陳長文), Lin said.

Lin hopes RCA's parent firms will not appeal the ruling, but choose to discuss further compensation measures. Chen, on the other hand, responded by saying that a possible appeal would depend on the parent companies of RCA.

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