Plaintiffs demand €582m from TÜV Süd over Brazil dam burst

25th January 2024 By: Bloomberg

MUNICH - More than 1 400 plaintiffs are demanding over €582-million in damages from German industrial inspector TÜV Süd over its alleged role in the deadly collapse of a dam in Brazil, their lawyers said on Thursday.

The January 25, 2019 tailings dam burst, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, unleashed a wave of mud that left 270 dead, while also ravaging local forests, rivers and communities.

TÜV Süd, whose Brazilian subsidiary had certified the dam, has rejected any legal responsibility for the burst.

The Munich Regional Court will decide whether Brazilian law can be applied during the proceedings, the plaintiffs said, adding that this would make it easier to hold the German company accountable.

According to the plaintiffs' lawyers, the court has commissioned an expert in Brazilian law to clarify the question.

TÜV Süd's lawyers have referred responsibility to Brazil's Vale, the world's largest iron-ore producer, that operated the dam.

"The responsibility of the dam operator was legally established in Brazil and the affected parties are being comprehensively compensated ... The claims asserted by the plaintiffs against TÜV Süd therefore do not exist", the company said in an emailed statement.

The Brazilian company promised to spend 7.8-billion reais ($1.58-billion) on repairs last year, after having spent around 10.2-billion reais in disbursements in 2022.