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Agent Orange manufacturers, DOJ seek lawsuit dismissal

[JURIST] Chemical companies that supplied Agent Orange [Wikipedia entry] to the US military in Vietnam asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Vietnamese citizens who say they were poisoned by their exposure. Lawyers for the Monsanto, Dow Chemical [official sites], and more than a dozen other defendant companies argued that US courts had no power to punish corporations for executing the orders of an American president acting as commander-in-chief. The defendants further argued that international law generally exempted corporations from civil liability for alleged war crimes. The plaintiffs allege that the chemical companies violated international law regarding chemical and biological weapons by producing the defoliant Agent Orange, which caused tumors, birth defects, and other health problems. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein was skeptical of the argument, analogizing that "The fact that all power was centralized under Hitler did not permit all people operating under his orders to violate international law." The US Justice Department [official site] also has asked Judge Weinstein to dismiss the case, arguing that allowing former wartime enemies to sue in US courts could threaten the government's power to wage war. Newsday has more. Review the complaint, briefs, and hearing transcripts in the case to date via FFRD.org.

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