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Policy

Supreme Court Denies Agent Orange Cases

by David J. Hanson
March 9, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 10

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected three separate cases involving lawsuits against the U.S. government and the companies that made and used the herbicide agent orange during the Vietnam War. The decision lets stand the 2008 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, that dismissed all three cases for various reasons (C&EN, March 3, 2008, page 26). The suits were brought by Vietnam War veterans and Vietnamese citizens who want to be compensated for health problems they believe are related to agent orange exposure during the war. At every legal level, the claims have been dismissed on technical grounds. In particular, the chemical companies involved, including Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and Occidental Chemical, are protected from tort liability because they were government contractors.

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