Civil Procedure

Federal Circuit Tosses 30-Year-Old Agent Orange Litigation on Jurisdictional Grounds


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has dismissed a petition in Agent Orange litigation originally filed more than 30 years ago.

The Federal Circuit ruled it had no jurisdiction in the case, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports.

The original suit had challenged a Veterans Administration publication cited in the denial of many claims for Agent Orange exposure. But the suit was filed in 1979, before creation of the Federal Circuit and before any court had statutory authority to review VA regulations for compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act, the Federal Circuit said in an April 14 opinion.

The plaintiffs had filed a petition for review with the Federal Circuit after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled it had no jurisdiction.

The veterans’ suit had claimed the Agent Orange Program Guide, issued in 1978, was a substantive rule that was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The guide had said the Agent Orange herbicide used in the Vietnam War was linked to just one condition: chloracne. Some VA denials for other ailments cited the chloracne conclusion. Veterans had claimed the herbicide caused problems that included cancer, liver dysfunction, neurological dysfunction, psychiatric problems, joint pain, muscle spasms, chronic fatigue and genetic damage.

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