German court hears damages claim over Brazil dam collapse


Avimar de Melo Barcelos, back left, mayor of the municipality of Brumadinho, Paulo Richardo Rocha Pinto, husband of a victim, Gustavo Barroso Camara, brother of a victim, lawyer Pedro Martins, and lawyer Jan Erik Spangenberg, left to right, arrive in the courtroom at the Munich Regional Court before the start of the trial in Munich Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Following the dam disaster in Brumadinho, Brazil, in early 2019, the affected community and the family of one of the 260 fatalities sued TUEV Sued for damages. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A Munich court on Tuesday heard a claim for compensation from a German certification company over a devastating dam collapse in Brazil in January 2019.

More than 270 people died when the dam at a mine operated by Brazilian mining company Vale collapsed, flooding nearby Brumadinho with mud. A local unit of Germany’s TUeV Sued had been involved in inspecting the structure.

The city of Brumadinho and relatives of an engineer who was killed in the collapse sued TUeV Sued for compensation and damages at the state court in Munich.

Lawyers for TUeV Sued rejected any responsibility on its part at Tuesday’s hearing, arguing that the probable cause was drilling and blasting for which Vale was responsible on the day of the collapse, German news agency dpa reported. The plaintiffs’ lawyers contended that the company had issued a declaration of stability for the dam although it knew that there were problems.

Presiding judge Ingrid Henn said she will announce a decision on Feb. 1.

In February, Vale signed a settlement deal to pay 37.7 billion reais ($7 billion) to the state of Minas Gerais, where Brumadinho is located.

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