Understanding Agent Orange Lawsuits: The Role of Lawyers in Seeking Justice for Veterans

During the Vietnam War, US service members exposed to herbicides like Agent Orange complained of health problems such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer and type 2 diabetes. They also reported birth defects in their children.

In 1979, Yannacone filed a lawsuit against several chemical companies that manufactured the herbicides on behalf of veterans and their families. The companies settled the case out of court five years later.

Legal Issues

A great many of the witnesses at the Fairness Hearings were veterans or members of their families who suffered from various forms of Agent Orange-related illness. A number of them have children with catastrophic polygenetic birth defects resulting from their exposure to Agent Orange.

They want the settlement to show that their suffering is not in vain. They want a jury to establish once and for all the link between their illness and the dioxin-contaminated phenoxy herbicides they were exposed to during military service in Vietnam.

They want to demonstrate that they were not treated with the respect and compassion they deserve by their government and its citizens. They are frustrated that the government expends some $70 million a year to treat veterans who claim Agent Orange-related injuries when causality has not been established. They also are dissatisfied that accepting the monetary settlement would make them ineligible for benefits provided by the state and federal governments.


From the testimony at numerous fairness hearings throughout the country, it is clear that class members are concerned about much more than money. They believe that out of love for their country, they went to Vietnam and fought bravely in a brutal war, and now they suffer from debilitating diseases that are the result of that service. They feel that the government has reneged on its promise to help them.

Suppose you’re seeking legal assistance with an Agent Orange-related claim. In that case, it’s important to find reputable Agent Orange lawyers near me who specialize in handling such cases with expertise and compassion.

Class members want a fair settlement that will enable them to have adequate medical treatment, and they are dissatisfied with the amount of the current settlement and the absence of a full airing of the evidence at trial. Several are angry at the defendants for not admitting responsibility for their wrongdoings. They also wish to see the extensive discovery documents released to the public. This will allow the public to learn what was known about the health effects of Agent Orange by both the plaintiffs and the defendants before the trial took place.

Expert Witnesses

Those called to testify as expert witnesses take an oath or affirmation to tell the truth. Attorneys for both sides question them about their knowledge and experience with the relevant subject matter. Expert witness testimony can be extremely important to a case.

In the Agent Orange class action, expert witnesses were needed to support the claim that veterans’ exposure to dioxin-laced herbicides caused their current health problems. For that reason, extensive discovery was conducted. Rooms full of military documents were made available for inspection, and depositions were taken of people who worked on the projects in question.

Despite these difficulties, the plaintiffs hoped to make a substantial recovery. They believed that even though scientific evidence does not show a causal relationship between the herbicides and their illnesses, it will ultimately be proven that they harmed them. A successful settlement would mean that the companies involved have admitted responsibility, saving the taxpayers the expense of repeated trials and appeals.


Many veterans and their families have a strong sense that much more is at stake in this litigation than mere money. They feel that out of love for their country, they fought bravely in a brutal war and then were sprayed with herbicides that destroyed them. They think the government and the defendant companies are ignoring their suffering and taking responsibility for it.

The court held extensive hearings on the settlement’s fairness and related issues. It heard hundreds of witnesses, read a substantial portion of the ample evidence in the file and took judicial notice of the published opinions on the subject.

The class action litigation was a long and difficult process. It involved extensive discovery, pretrial hearings, a trial, and appeals. It also entailed enormous work for the attorneys and staff representing veterans and their families. It has been a painful experience for everyone involved.


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