2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 17 Sep 2003 14:46:09 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Residents' Federal Lawsuits Blocked
Residents' Federal Lawsuits Blocked
Weapons Tested In Spring Valley
By Carol D. Leonnig
Wednesday, September 17, 2003; Page B08

Residents of Spring Valley cannot hold the federal government legally
responsible for toxic contamination lurking under their Northwest
Washington neighborhood, where the U.S. Army tested and dumped hundreds
of pounds of chemical munitions during World War I, a federal judge has

The decision from U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, covering
claims made by Spring Valley residents in three lawsuits, takes the
government off the hook for what some advocates consider the largest
environmental hazard in the District of Columbia's history. The ruling
will likely be appealed.

The judge left open the possibility of litigation against American
University, which offered its 92-acre campus to the Army for weapons
testing in 1917, and developers who sold former campus property to
residents, allegedly without warning of dangers of arsenic and other

"This is a horrible decision for residents of Spring Valley," said
Patrick M. Regan, an attorney for a family whose property was once part
of the university campus and was found to have hazardous levels of
arsenic. "Property values there are plummeting. . . . But now the
federal government gets to walk away."

Several attorneys involved in the case said they expect appeals from
residents as well as American University. The university had also sued
the federal government after it was targeted by residents in litigation.

Four lawsuits, including a class action, filed by Spring Valley
residents last year claimed that the Army negligently stored and handled
highly toxic chemicals -- including mustard gas, cyanide phosgene,
arsenic and lewisite -- on the campus before the war ended in 1918.

The suits also claimed the government later buried hazardous materials
in pits and failed to warn people of environmental and health risks. The
suits sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to compensate
residents for health risks and loss of property value.

Huvelle dismissed the class action suit in March. But three residents'
suits remained.

In her ruling, dated Sept. 10, Huvelle said the federal government is
immune from those three suits -- or any like them -- because the Army
and Environmental Protection Agency made discretionary decisions that
cannot be challenged.

This article can be viewed at:

CPEO: A DECADE OF SUCCESS.  Your generous support will ensure that our 
important work on military and environmental issues will continue.  
Please consider one of our donation options.  Thank you.

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Air Force ducking duty on asbestos
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Input urged on land plan
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Air Force ducking duty on asbestos
Next by Thread: RE: [CPEO-MEF] Residents' Federal Lawsuits Blocked

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index