In Court

  • 30/03/2005

No remorse: Counsel for major US chemical companies have demanded the dismissal of a civil lawsuit which claims that nearly four million Vietnamese people suffered dioxin poisoning due to the use of the defoliant Agent Orange by USsoldiers. The demand was tabled before a USdistrict court judge in Brooklyn. The lawsuit charges the companies with committing war crime by supplying the chemical to the military during the Vietnam War. The case is crucial in that it concerns the power of the USpresident in authorising the use of hazardous materials during war.

More than 30 companies are named in the lawsuit, including Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto Company. It demands the payment of several billion dollars for conducting an environmental cleanup programme in Vietnam and providing compensation to the people. The companies say they produced Agent Orange as per government specifications and the connections between Agent Orange and the diseases it is accused of causing have never been proved. A decision in the case is expected in a few weeks.

Forced remorse: A UScourt has approved a US $107.6 million settlement of a class action lawsuit against the DuPont Company. The lawsuit alleged that the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used in the manufacture of the non-stick material Teflon had contaminated drinking water supplies near the company's Washington plant. DuPont denies any wrongdoing but it said in September 2004 that it will settle the case due to the time and expenditure involved in the judicial process.

Besides paying damages to the affected people, the lawsuit demands that DuPont should spend US $10 million to provide six local water utilities with new treatment equipment to reduce the PFOA levels in the drinking water. The company also has to fund a US $5 million independent study to determine the harmful health effects of PFOA and pay US $22.6 million to the residents who filed the lawsuit to compensate their legal expenses.

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