U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Agent Orange lawsuits

By Chris Rizo | Mar 10, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court building

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear three cases against Dow Chemical Company over the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

By rejecting the cases, the high court affirmed dismissals of the cases by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

Dow, which was one of the companies that made Agent Orange for the U.S. military, was being sued by plaintiffs, including former soldiers and Vietnamese nations, who claimed they were harmed by the herbicide, which has been linked to cancer and diabetes, among other conditions.

In 1984, seven chemical companies, including Dow and Monsanto, agreed to a $180 million settlement with American veterans who claimed Agent Orange exposure.

Dismissing one of the cases, the appeals court said Vietnamese plaintiffs could not sue because Agent Orange was used to protect U.S. troops from ambush by Vietcong forces and not as a weapon against people.

The other two cases were dismissed at the appeals court level because federal law protects government contractors.

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens recused himself in all three cases. Stevens' son was a Vietnam veteran who died of cancer in 1996. Some have said his death might have some connection to Agent Orange exposure.

The cases are Isaacson v. Dow Chemical Co., 08-460, Stephenson v. Dow Chemical Co., 08-461, and Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange v. Dow Chemical Co., 08-470.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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