Gulf War Veterans
LARRY NEUMEISTER / AP 19aug03
NEW YORK—Blaming corporations for fueling former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program, victims of the first Gulf War filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking compensation for illnesses affecting more than 100,000 soldiers.
"Anyone with eyes and ears knew Saddam was killing people with poison gas in the 1980s," lawyer Gary B. Pitts said outside federal court. "These companies have to be held accountable or they'll do this same thing in the future with some other tyrant."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for more than 100,000 soldiers who it says suffered severe injuries and staggering economic losses after they were exposed to chemicals when coalition forces blew up Iraqi ammunition dumps.
Lawyers said they hoped to force chemical corporations from France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States to reject future requests for business from tyrants around the globe.
According to the filing, the Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that more than 100,000 veterans of the first Gulf War have at least a 10 percent impairment from chemical exposure, about 3,500 veterans have 70 percent impairment and 1,200 veterans are 100 percent disabled.
Research has shown those veterans are more likely to suffer from a variety of chronic problems, including memory loss, fatigue, joint pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and rashes.
However, no conclusive cause for these symptoms has been found despite hundreds of studies. The theories range from stress and low-level nerve gas exposure to pesticides and depleted uranium from armor-piercing ammunition.
Pitts said he brought the lawsuit in Brooklyn because the court there has experience with complex lawsuits and because litigation pertaining to Agent Orange had been filed there. The herbicide Agent Orange was used in the 1960s and 1970s in Vietnam to clear dense jungle foliage that provided cover for enemy forces.
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