EGLIN AFB — A local attorney and the attorney who argued the case of Vietnam veterans exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange that led to a $180 million settlement in 1984 — the largest settlement of its kind at the time — are joining forces on behalf of civilian workers exposed to the chemical compound on Eglin Air Force Base ranges in the 1960s.
The two attorneys have drafted a complaint, but have not yet filed it in federal court, according to Santa Rosa Beach attorney Rusty Sanders. Sanders was approached some months ago by civilian workers for defense contractor Vitro Corporation, which was involved in applications of Agent Orange on the Eglin ranges.
Sanders subsequently brought in Upstate New York attorney Victor Yannacone, who took the Vietnam veterans’ case and in the process, became an expert on Agent Orange.
The civilian workers’ case “is the same thing all over again,” Yannacone said Monday. One thing that’s different this time around, though, is that the 200-page potential court filing includes documentation indicating that manufacturers of Agent Orange knew that it was dangerous to humans, Yannacone said.
According to Yannacone and Sanders, the potential filing targets those manufacturers, including Monsanto, Dow, Diamond Shamrock and others, along with contractors including the successor company to Vitro Corporation.
Their effort is hampered, however, both men say, by a lack of resources. When the lawsuit is filed, Yannacone said, he and Sanders will be lined up against “seven major corporate law firms, and seven major corporations.”