French Court Throws Out Lawsuit Against Companies Who Made ‘Agent Orange’ Used in Vietnam War

A French court dismissed on Monday a lawsuit filed by a French-Vietnamese woman against the 14 chemical companies behind Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

Rejection: The lawsuit was first filed in 2014 by Tran To Nga, 79, who claims she was a victim of Agent Orange, according to Reuters.

  • Among the companies included in the lawsuit are U.S. chemical firms Dow Chemical and Monsanto, which are now owned by Germany's Bayer.

  • Tran said she is suffering from several conditions including type 2 diabetes and a rare insulin allergy as a result of the Agent Orange dropped in Vietnam during the war. She was in her 20s at that time, working as a journalist and activist.

  • Her children also have health problems, as one daughter died from heart malformation, according to DW.

  • The companies argued they could not be held accountable as the U.S. military were the ones who used their products. A lawyer from Bayer said they were “suppliers during the war,” while a representative from Monsanto said the U.S. government deployed Agent Orange to uphold “national defense.”

  • The French court also ruled that it had no jurisdiction on the matter of the U.S government’s wartime operations.

Other details: Bayer had welcomed the court’s decision and expressed “great sympathy for Ms. Tran To Nga and all those who suffered during the Vietnam war,” the company said in a statement.

  • Tran reportedly plans to appeal the case.

  • William Bourdon, one of Tran’s lawyers, said on Twitter "the court was applying an obsolete definition of the immunity of jurisdiction principle which contradicted modern principles of international and national law."

  • The U.S. military dropped 18 million gallons (68 million liters) onto the dense jungle of Vietnam as a way to cut the opposing troops’ supply of crops. Millions from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos suffered illnesses after being exposed to Agent Orange. Newborn infants also suffered disabilities and extreme facial disfigurement.

  • The U.S. government, however, maintains its stance that there's not enough scientific proof linking the dioxin poisoning claimed by many Vietnamese people to the spraying of the chemical during the war.

  • The only people who were able to get compensation from Agent Orange so far were military veterans from the countries involved in the war.

Featured Image via Movies that Matter

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