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Vietnam vets sue US in sequel to Agent Orange case

Lawyers who won a $180 million settlement last May from chemical companies for alleged victims of the herbicide Agent Orange said Thursday they had filed a long-shot lawsuit against the federal government in an attempt to win another $1 .82 billion.

Already, 100,000 claims on the fund have been filed, and another 20,000 are expected, said Texas lawyer Benton Musslewhite.

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Yesterday's suit argued that the government's purchase of the herbicide enabled the chemical companies to assert that they were immune from lawsuits as government contractors. Thus, they could settle for only a fraction of the $2 billion the veterans were claiming, and therefore the government had ''taken'' property from the veterans unconstitutionally - the ''property'' being the basis of their lawsuit.

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