In re “Agent Orange” Product Liability Litigation

580 F. Supp. 690 (1984)

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In re “Agent Orange” Product Liability Litigation

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
580 F. Supp. 690 (1984)

Facts

During the Vietnam War, the United States military used an herbicide nicknamed Agent Orange to defoliate jungles in locations where military operations occurred, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Agent Orange was produced by a number of different chemical manufacturers (defendants) and was supplied to the military by way of government contracts. Agent Orange supplied by multiple manufacturers was routinely mixed together into containers before it was used, often making it impossible to identify which manufacturer’s product was being used in a given location. After the war, claims were filed by or on behalf of veterans, their spouses, and their children (veterans) (plaintiffs) in all 50 states, alleging that exposure to Agent Orange caused a variety of injuries and illnesses, including miscarriages and birth defects. The lawsuits were transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York for pretrial purposes, and a class action was certified. Initially, the district court allowed the veterans to proceed based on federal-question jurisdiction. However, this decision was reversed on appeal, and the veterans were permitted to proceed based only on diversity jurisdiction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Weinstein, C.J.)

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