Daily News Archive
Supreme Court Says
Veterans Can Sue for Agent Orange Caused Illness
The 1985 settlement agreement established a $180 million chemical company fund that was intended to pay veteran claims for effects that ranged from birth defects to cancer. Funds were exhausted in 1997, after the plaintiffs' disease was identified.
The veterans' attorney, Gerson Smoger, said, "For the past nine years, we have been working to show that the Agent Orange class action settlement cannot stand when the very victims of Agent Orange are entitled to no compensation from it."
The insurance and business lobby in Friend of the Court briefs urged the court not to open class action settlements to further litigation, which could have major impact on an acceptable litigation tool that is viewed as containing defendant liability. Justice Paul Stevens recused himself from the case without explanation. According to The Washington Post, Justice Stevens' son, a Vietnam Veteran, died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 47.