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February 28, 2005
Agent Orange is back...
Over at Opinio Juris, Julian Ku relates that a new Agent Orange case is beginning today before -- who else? -- Judge Jack Weinstein (see also BBC article today). Agent Orange was of course the herbicide used in the Vietnam War by the U.S. military to clear out brush in the jungle better to enable our troops' safety. The product was alleged to have caused health problems in some veterans (but see Michael Gough's discussion, "Dioxin: Perceptions, Estimates, and Measures," in Phantom Risk: Scientific Inference and the Law), and the original class action on behalf of veterans made Weinstein a household name in some circles (read more about the tale in Yale law professor Peter Schuck's Agent Orange on Trial: Mass Toxic Disasters in the Courts).
So what's behing this new case? It's being brought under the Alien Tort Statute "on behalf of every Vietnamese national who was exposed to Agent Orange," a class of "not less than two to four million persons." Mind-boggling to think that a company could be sued for providing a product mandated by the federal government on behalf of a military action ordered by the commander-in-chief. Though, come to think of it, the military certainly ordered that asbestos be used during World War II...
Julian thinks that although the defendants should win the case, being before Weinstein substantially lowers their odds. Read the full post here.
Posted by James R. Copland at 08:08 PM
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