US court dismisses Agent Orange suit

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit charging that US chemical companies committed war crimes against some four million Vietnamese citizens by making Agent Orange.

    Agent Orange is linked to cancer, birth defects and diabetes

    Agent Orange is the name of the chemical defoliant used by the US military that allegedly caused birth defects, miscarriages and cancer in Vietnam.

     

    "There is no basis for any of the claims of plaintiffs under the domestic law of any nation or state or under any form of international law. The case is dismissed," US District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in Brooklyn wrote in a 233-page ruling.

     

    Lawyers who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Vietnamese citizens argued that Agent Orange, which is laden with the highly toxic chemical dioxin, was a poison barred by

    international rules of war.

     

    Lawyers for Monsanto, Dow Chemical and more than a dozen other companies said they should not be punished for following what they believed to be the legal orders of the nation's commander-in-chief.

     

    Potentially crippling

     

    "There is no basis for any of the claims of plaintiffs under the domestic law of any nation or state or under any form of international law"

    Jack B Weinstein,
    US District Judge

    The Department of Justice filed a brief supporting the chemical companies, saying a ruling against the firms had the potential to cripple the president's powers to direct

    US armed forces in wartime.

     

    The civil suit was the first attempt by Vietnamese plaintiffs to seek compensation for the effects of Agent Orange, which has been linked to cancer, diabetes and birth defects among Vietnamese soldiers, civilians and American veterans.

     

    US aircraft sprayed more than 21 million gallons of the chemical between 1962 to 1971 in attempts to destroy crops and remove foliage used as cover by communist forces.

     

    Some 10,000 US war veterans already receive medical disability benefits related to Agent Orange.

     

    The Vietnamese government has said the United States has a moral responsibility for damage to its citizens and environment, but has never sought compensation for victims.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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