Parents Launch Lawsuit for Infant Milk Death
On May 1, 2008, five month old Yi Kaixuan from Gansu Province died of kidney stones and urinary stones. During the first five months of his life he had been fed with contaminated milk powder.
Kaixuan is supposedly the first officially acknowledged victim from consumption of contaminated powdered milk. He was fed milk formula made from the Sanlu brand since he was born on November 14, 2007. His parents had purchased the product at a specialty Sanlu outlet in their hometown.
At the age of four months, the boy would frequently scream when urinating and the quantity of urine was very little. Over time, Kaixuan began to drink less and less of the formula. When he was hospitalized, the doctors were not able to explain the cause of his ailment. Kaixuan’s condition deteriorated, he had abdominal swelling and barely urinated.
An ultrasound exam on April 28 showed that he suffered from enlarged kidneys containing an excessive amount of fluid, but his bladder was empty.
On April 30, doctors at Lanzhou University's First Hospital discussed about kidney stones and kidney failure as the cause. The little boy was then transferred to intensive care and kept under constant observation.
Further exams revealed additional stones in both kidneys and weakening of several other internal organs. Surgery was planned, but Kaixuan died before the operation could happen. Only ten days had elapsed from the day of his diagnosis and his death.
Parents Launch Lawsuit for Baby’s Death
Kaixuan’s parents relayed their ordeal in an interview with The Epoch Times. They said their son's illness had been an unsolvable puzzle for a long time. Only when they became aware of the Sanlu powdered milk scandal did they find a clue. It was immediately obvious to them that the powdered formula was the cause of their son's death, and quickly notified local authorities. On September 15, Gansu Province Health Department officials confirmed that Yi Kaixuan's death was connected with consumption of the contaminated Sanlu powdered milk.
Following the advice from friends, the parents filed a lawsuit with the Lanzhou City Middle Court on October 13 to seek legal damages and compensation from Sanlu for their son's death. They are seeking 1 million yuan (USD$ 146,158).
"We are more concerned with justice than anything else," said Yi Yonghshen, Kaixuan’s father. "Not only must those who made and distributed this poisoned food be punished, but this also serves as a warning to the [Chinese] officials and to alert the consumers.”
To date, the court officials have not officially accepted the lawsuit. The family's lawyer, Shanghai attorney Dong Junming, said, "I have presented the claim to several agencies involved with this and awaiting their reactions and directives.
"This case has far-reaching societal implications, and the number of people who are affected by this scandal is huge," Mr Dong said.
The parents also demand an official apology from Sanlu, and reimbursement for the following expenses: hospital treatment, hospital food, transportation costs, overnight stay, supplementary feeding for the child, nursing care, missed wages and funeral costs, amounting to 1,089.844 yuan.
Mr Dong is convinced of the child's cause of death and agrees with his client's financial demands against Sanlu. He stated, "I am certain the child's death is attributable to the Sanlu contaminated powdered milk formula as already confirmed by officials from the Gansu Health Department. Legal basis for this lawsuit is indisputable.
"According to Chinese civil law, the right to life cannot be violated; the law protects this. Likewise, the laws dealing with production of any substance is quite clear that manufacturers and distributors are liable for the quality of the products and must, by law, compensate consumers in case of shoddy products. In addition, the manufacturers and distributors have to abide by Chinese consumer and food laws," Mr Dong said.
Kaixuan's parents have been grieving. The boy's mother has lost 20 lbs and unable to come to grips with the death of her son.