CRAN et al v. French State

2006925/6-2, 2107178/6-2 et 2126538/6-2
May 5, 2020
Final judgment
France, Paris

Environmental NGOs, Individuals
1 241 plaintiffs, Association CRAN (Conseil représentatif des associations noires), Association VIVRE Guadeloupe, Collectif LYANNAJ POU DEPOLYE MATINIK
Christian Lèguevaques

Class action
Organochlorine, Chlordecone, Musalone, Curlone, Kepone 5 % SEPPIC
Acknowledge the liability of the French State for its wrongful failure to use its police powers and its obligation to provide information concerning chlordecone; Compensate for the damage caused by the granting of provisional sales authorizations by the French State for the products Kepone and Curlone, and for the moral damage caused by the anxiety of people who have lived in Guadeloupe or Martinique since 1972 for more than 12 months as a result of the wrongful conduct of the French State
Administrative Court of Paris , France

June 24, 2022
Partially Positive
The State services are guilty of wrongful negligence for the sale of insecticides containing chlordecone. The court recognizes the responsibility but refuses to compensate the anxiety prejudice invoked by the plaintiffs because of the lack of personal and detailed elements.
No description

On June 24, 2022, the Paris Administrative Court found the French government liable for the administrative authorities' failure in the registration process for chlordecone, an organochlorine insecticide used to combat banana weevils in Martinique and Guadeloupe between the 1970s and 1990s. Produced under a variety of names, chlordecone-based insecticides contaminated not only the soil, drinking water and many local species, but also the diets of between 92 and 95% of the residents of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

This decision is part of a wider litigation movement aimed at holding the French government responsible for having repeatedly authorized the use of chlordecone in banana plantations, even though the toxicity of the product and its harmful effects on human health and the environment were known to the authorities. In 2006, a criminal action was launched on the grounds of poisoning and endangering others, but the case was dismissed in 2022 (see "ASSAUPAMAR et al v. X").

In May 2020, 1,241 claimants, including the CRAN association and the Lyannaj pou Depolye Matinik collective, appealed to the Paris Administrative Court to overturn the French government's implicit decision to reject their claim for compensation for the harm caused by the repeated approval of chlordecone-based products between 1972 and 1993, and for the moral harm of anxiety resulting in particular from a lack of information and transparency on the part of the State in managing the consequences of chlordecone use.

The Administrative Court held that the claimants were justified in maintaining that the French government had been negligent in allowing the sale of chlordecone-based insecticides from 1972 to 1993 (Kepone, Seppic, Musalone and Curlone), under the system of provisional sales authorizations beyond the six-year period stipulated by law, then by validating its approval without being able to establish, under the prescribed conditions, its harmlessness on the health of the population, crops and animals, and, finally, by authorizing the continuation of sales beyond the legally stipulated periods in the event of withdrawal of the authorizations. The French government was thus found liable for culpable failure to use chlordecone, whose toxicity had been known to the authorities since the late 1950s. This ruling is in line with French case law on state liability in public health matters.

In this case, however, the administrative court found that the claimants had not put forward any personal and detailed evidence to justify the anxiety loss they were claiming, apart from the fact that they had lived in Martinique or Guadeloupe for more than twelve months since 1973. The carcinogenic risks of chlordecone exposure in adults, as well as the impact of prenatal exposure on motor skills and visual preference scores in newborns, were nevertheless highlighted throughout the decision.

In addition, the Administrative Court dismissed the grievances based on the delay in dealing with the chlordecone pollution and the failure to inform the population, considering that the State services had taken measures as soon as the first samples were taken from the catchment waters revealing the presence of chlordecone, and had provided the population with sufficiently clear and precise information on what to do with regard to the consumption of contaminated products.