In a judicial decision on Axis 7, handed down on July 28, 2023, Judge Vinicius Cobucci Sampaio, who is currently in charge of the Fundão Dam collapse case, issued a sanitizing decision that changes the understanding of the way previous judges had been acting in the Simplified Indemnity System (Novel). 

It is important to say that a sanitizing decision is one that organizes the acts carried out in the process and corrects what it believes should be changed for the work to continue. And that the judge follows what Brazilian law says, which is applied throughout the country.  

Another point worth noting is that the effects of the decision do not affect the rights that those affected have already acquired, nor those that may be acquired in the analyses that are underway in the Simplified Compensation System. In other words: those who have received or will receive compensation under the Novel program have their rights guaranteed and will continue to receive them or will start to receive them, depending on the case. 

What changes with the decision? 

Before we mention the changes, we would like to inform you that their effects can be modified through appeal. This means that another judge may take a different view of the decision and change it. 

Attention, these are the main topics dealt with by the judge

  • The Commissions of Affected Parties, which act as judicial representatives of those affected by the Novel, will no longer be able to act in this way. The judge ruled that the affected people’s commissions cannot join the judicial process, as there is no provision in the law for this, even though they can act as spaces for participation. This means that the Commissions will no longer be able to make requests to the courts on behalf of those affected.  

  • The Simplified Indemnity System (Novel) will be closed until September 29, 2023. Anyone who hasn’t joined Novel yet has until September 29 to do so. After this date, only those affected who were already registered on the platform will be able to correct the request. 

  • Negotiations to audit the out-of-court platform are suspended. In other words, for the time being there will be no audit of requests made through the Simplified Compensation System. 

  • Kearney will no longer be the legal expert in the court case, but will continue to analyze the appeal requests. The judge pointed out that the law does not recognize the powers given to this expertise as had been the case in Novel.  

  • Rejections of requests made on Novel are now considered extrajudicial (administrative). This means that they have no effect on the judiciary.  

According to the court, the decision denying the victim’s right to be compensated by Novel is considered an extrajudicial decision, unrelated to the judiciary. For this reason, those affected should not now ask the judiciary to reconsider the denial of the Novel. In other words, those affected cannot file a lawsuit seeking to review the decision that denied them compensation for the Novel. 

Faced with the closure of Novel on September 29, what are the ways in which the people affected can seek compensation? 

The judge has indicated that those affected can start a new action with a claim for individual compensation in the state courts, even if their claim has been denied in the Novel system.   

In addition, those affected can go to the Task Force’s Justice Institutions, such as the State or Federal Public Defender’s Offices, State or Federal Public Prosecutors’ Offices, if they want to ask for their rights to be represented collectively, as the law states that these institutions can represent them. According to the decision, the Commissions of Affected Parties cannot represent the affected parties in the courts. 

It is worth noting that: in the Federal Court, it will not be possible to file individual lawsuits, as the judge will not judge these cases. However, it is still possible in the state courts.   

We still have to wait to see if this decision will be appealed before we know if its effects will be maintained.  

 

From the river to the sea:  Adai’s Technical Advisory of Affected People is following up to ensure that the people affected are informed.