A federal judge ruled that Vietnam veterans may join in a class-action suit in their quest for damages allegedly suffered from exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange used during the Southeast Asia war. The judge also ruled that the government is immune from liability in the case. He said 19 chemical companies may be liable for damages but the issue will have to be determined by a trial. No date was set but lawyers were ordered to submit briefs by Jan. 23.
Lawyers for the principal companies named as defendants, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Hercules, Diamond Shamrock, Thompson-Hayward, Uniroyal, and Hooker, declined to comment on the ruling.