212416 Supreme Court and the recent Agent Orange lawsuit

Monday, November 9, 2009: 5:30 PM

Constantine P. Kokkoris, Esq, Atty at Law , Moore and Goodman, LLP, New York, NY
On January 30, 2004, a class action lawsuit was brought in federal court in Brooklyn, New York on behalf of Vietnamese citizens against the manufacturers of powerful herbicides commonly known as Agent Orange. The Agent Orange herbicides, many of which were contaminated with varying amounts of dioxin, were sprayed indiscriminately for almost ten years over vast populated regions of southern Vietnam during the war with the United States, and many Vietnamese claim that their exposure to Agent Orange caused cancers, miscarriages and birth defects. The case was dismissed on March 10, 2005, and after a series of appeals, finally ended on March 2, 2009, with the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of certiorari. The courts ruled that under U.S. law, because the manufacturers were government contractors who followed the government-approved specifications for Agent Orange, they were entitled to the equivalent of sovereign immunity. The courts also ruled that the use of Agent Orange, contaminated with dioxin, did not rise to the level of chemical warfare in violation of international law sufficient to form the basis of a civil lawsuit in U.S. courts. Numerous cases brought by U.S. war veterans also claiming injury from exposure to Agent Orange were also dismissed by the courts. This presentation will review the facts elicited during the lawsuits, explore the reasoning behind the decisions of the courts, and consider the application of international humanitarian law and ethical considerations to the actions of the manufacturers of Agent Orange.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the facts, issues, and legal reasoning behind the recent Supreme Court decision in the Agent Orange law suit. Consider the application of international humanitarian law and ethics in the proper course of action to take with Agent Orange manufacturers.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: coming soon.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.