NCOA is pleased to announce that the U.S. Supreme Court, in a short,
two-paragraph opinion handed a major victory to Vietnam Veterans
suffering from diseases caused by Agent Orange. The Decision in Dow
Chemical Company v. Stephenson, No. 02-271 was based on two Vietnam
Veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the war who sought judicial
action against manufacturers of the chemical. Plaintiff Joe Isaacson
was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1996 and Plaintiff Dan
Stephenson with multiple Myeloma in 1998. The Federal District Court
dismissed both their product liability actions against the
manufacturers of Agent Orange, ruling that they were bound by a
class action settlement approved by District Judge Jack B.
Weinstein. The fund established by that settlement was exhausted, as
planned in 1994. The Second Circuit Court reversed that decision,
holding that future victims were not adequately represented in the
class action. The Supreme Court divided 4-4 on Stephenson's case,
permitting the Second Circuit opinion to stand. The 4-4 Supreme
Court equally divided decision resulted from Justice John Paul
Stevens, whose son served in Vietnam and died of cancer in 1996,
reclused himself from the case.
NCOA had filed an Amices Brief on behalf of the Veteran Plaintiffs
and was recognized by Counsel in a note, which conveyed the message
of victory, and, "Thank you for your willingness to stand up for
vets as an Amices in this matter. The united position of veterans
was an important factor in the posture of this case." Richard "Dick"
Schneider of the NCOA National Capital Office attended the oral
arguments during the Supreme Court review of Dow Chemical Company v.
The decision of the Supreme Court is significant.
Already, the Court
remanded Isaacson's case indicating that it was improperly removed
to Federal Court under the All Writs Act. Equally significant, it
has opened the judicial process to individual veterans similarly exposed
to Agent Orange.
Individual veterans who may have claims may contact
the office of Gerson Smoger at 510-531-5429 or
Timothy Bechtold at
406-543-5156, facsimile 406-728-8878