PRCG Continues its work on behalf of Haiti Cholera Victims

10.01.19

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Nearly a decade after the introduction of cholera into Haiti by the United Nations, PRCG continues its work on behalf of the victims of that disaster by providing PR support for a landmark lawsuit aimed at holding the UN responsible for its actions. Laventure v. United Nations is currently before the United States Supreme Court. The case is one of the largest environmental tort claims in history, and the largest lawsuit ever filed against the United Nations.

The case was recently featured in media that included The Guardian and Fox News. PRCG CEO James F. Haggerty, an attorney, also serves as lead counsel to the plaintiffs in the case.

The UN Negligently Infected More Than 1 Million Haitians

After the disastrous earthquake in 2010, the UN sent peacekeepers to help recovery efforts in Haiti, but failed to test these peacekeepers for cholera. Improper hygiene at the peacekeepers’ camp allowed waste to run into a local river, quickly infecting the population with the disease.

Cholera, previously unknown to Haiti, has since killed nearly 10,000 and sickened more than a million more. As of today, the disease has not been completely eradicated.

In 2016, Ban Ki-moon, then Secretary-General of the United Nations finally admitted the UN’s responsibility for the disease and apologized to the Haitian people. But the UN has continued to avoid accepting liability for the epidemic. Victims and their families have been left uncompensated for damages caused by the UN that have ruined lives and torn apart families.

Accepting liability isn’t a charitable act. It’s an enforceable obligation.

James Haggerty on Fox News

The UN’s refusal to accept liability for its actions in Haiti comes despite the fact that the UN had previously expressly assumed liability for private law damages caused by UN forces. Potential procedures for settling claims through a “Standing Claims Commission,” however, have never been established.  Faced with the price tag of saving a population decimated by disease, the UN balked and hid behind its blanket of immunity. Despite subsequent promises of a fund to help victims and reassurances about existing efforts to help Haiti recover, no victim has been compensated.

Earlier this year, attorneys for the plaintiffs petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case. Laventure v. United Nations asks a straightforward question: Isn’t acceptance of liability for the actions of UN peacekeepers an enforceable obligation? And how can the UN admit responsibility and assume liability, yet claim that this liability does not apply in any enforceable forum?

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to hear the case in October.

Update: On October 7, 2019, the US Supreme Court denied the petition to hear the case. A petition for rehearing has been filed.

Photo Credit: Reuters, 2010.