2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 9 Jun 2003 21:09:43 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] High Court Deadlocks on Agent Orange Case
High Court Deadlocks on Agent Orange Case
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
June 9, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court deadlocked Monday on whether it's too
late for sick Vietnam veterans to sue chemical companies over Agent
Orange exposure, but allowed vets to continue lawsuits claiming they
were wrongly shut out of a decades-old national settlement.

 Business groups had feared a ruling that would threaten to reopen many
class-action settlements at a cost of millions or possibly billions of

Instead, justices were divided 4-4. A ninth justice, Justice John Paul
Stevens (news - web sites), did not participate in the case. He did not
give a reason for his recusal, but his only son was a Vietnam veteran
who apparently suffered from cancer before his death in 1996 at age 47.

The case raised an interesting question of how courts should handle
claims from war veterans who got cancer and other diseases after the
$180 million Agent Orange settlement was spent. Two veterans argued
their constitutional due process rights were violated in the 1984
settlement, which included no payments to people who became ill after

In an unsigned opinion, the court ordered more consideration of the
claims of Joe Isaacson, a vice principal in Irvington, N.J. The court,
on a tie vote, left undisturbed a decision that allowed the lawsuit of
Daniel Stephenson, a retired helicopter pilot living in Florida. Both
men claim their cancers are related to Agent Orange, used in the 1960s
and 1970s to clear dense jungle foliage that provided cover for enemy

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