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Agent Orange company goes to court over medical testing

Nearly everyone in Albany has heard of Agent Orange, the defoliant that was used throughout the Vietnam War, and the dangerous side effects the chemical has had on the veterans that came into contact with it. While the people who have traditionally filed lawsuits surrounding Agent Orange have been veterans and their families, one of the companies that made a key ingredient for the chemical has been sued for property contamination.

Residents near a Monsanto plant that made chemicals, herbicides and one of the components used in Agent Orange for the past 50 years originally filed suit in 2004 for dioxin contamination in residential areas and schools. It was only recently, however, that the ongoing mediation between residents and the company fell apart. Now, the issue of whether residents are entitled to medical testing and monitoring for prolonged toxic exposure will be heard in court.

In addition to this large class action lawsuit against Monsanto, many individual residents have brought lawsuits against the chemical manufacturer for personal injury and individual damages. Many residents claim they developed cancer after having been exposed to dioxins emitted by the West Virginia plant.

The business was previously divided between pharmaceuticals, agricultural herbicides and chemicals. Before the company started to separate into the different businesses, it was the focus of a previous toxic exposure lawsuit. In 1984, a group of plaintiffs sued Monsanto for causing numerous health problems. Although the jury failed to hold the company responsible for the dioxin poisonings, it did determine that it was dioxin that had caused the plaintiffs' illnesses.

Environmental contamination lawsuits can be incredibly complex and daunting to an individual who has suffered the effects of living near a dangerous plant or business. While individual plaintiffs may not have the strength or resources to take on a big business that spews toxic chemicals, working with an experienced toxic exposure lawyer may make holding a business responsible for its careless pollution possible.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Lawsuit against Monsanto proceeds after mediation fails," Georgina Gustin, Dec. 30, 2011

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