Suit over patient deaths


A damages suit has been filed against Tokyo Electric Power Co. by 15 relatives of four patients who died in 2011 in the early days of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdown catastrophe due to alleged improper medical care blamed on chaotic evacuations and power outages.

The 15 plaintiffs are seeking some ¥125 million in damages from Tepco in their suit filed Monday with the Tokyo District Court, saying the patients died because they were not able to be treated during the evacuation process, which caused them to lose strength.

The four patients who died, ranging in age from their 60s to 90s, were staying at Futaba Hospital or its affiliated nursing facility in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, and died between March 15 and April 18, 2011, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs. The central government has acknowledged that the four deaths were nuclear disaster-related.

The relatives of three other patients who died at the hospital also plan to sue Tepco.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, 51 people at Futaba Hospital and its nursing facility, including inpatients, died between March 11, 2011, the day of nuclear crisis started, and April 30, 2011.

“I hope the lawsuit will reveal how a member of my family died,” one of the plaintiffs said.

Tepco declined comment on the suit, saying it has yet to examine the details.