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China dairy companies to pay $160 million in compensation for contaminated milk

[JURIST] Twenty-two Chinese dairy companies are expected to pay a total of $160 million to compensate the families of nearly 300,000 children harmed by melamine-contaminated milk [JURIST news archive], according to a Tuesday report [text] by China Daily. Government sources have said that $129 million of the settlement will be made as lump sum payments to families whose children were made ill or killed by the contamination. The families are expected to receive between $290 and $29,000 in compensation, depending on the amount of harm caused. A spokesperson for the China Insurance Regulatory Commission [official website] has said that another $31 million will go towards a long-term healthcare fund for the children. Some families have already agreed to accept the settlement amounts, but lawyers for other victims have urged their clients to reject them [AP report], saying the payouts are too small.

Also Tuesday, the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court began the trial [Xinhua report] of Geng Jinping and Geng Jinzhu, two men suspected of adding the chemical as part of a mixture designed to increase the protein content of the milk. The two men were employees of the government-owned Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co. [Research and Markets profile], whose chairwoman is expected to face trial on Wednesday for her involvement in the selling of the contaminated milk.

The Chinese Dairy Industry Association [Light Industry backgrounder] announced [JURIST report] the proposed settlement last week, but had not disclosed its amount. News of melamine-contaminated milk first broke in September [Guardian report], leading to massive recalls [BBC report] of Chinese dairy products. The contaminated milk has left six dead and 294,000 ill, according to the Ministry of Health [government website]. Four others suspected of involvement in the contamination went on trial Monday, and the trials of six others [JURIST reports] began last week.

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