Justice in Settlements

Social Philosophy and Policy 4 (1):102 (1986)
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INTRODUCTION In any society relatively few disputes are brought to judges for resolution. Most are handled informally or forgotten. Fewer still are cases that go to trial. Most are settled. Compromises are reached even in cases where issues are hotly contested and where millions or billions of dollars in damages are claimed. Recently, for example, one of the most controversial lawsuits of our time, the Agent Orange case, was settled. In that case, veterans of the Vietnam War, their spouses, and their children alleged that a defoliant — Agent Orange – used in Southeast Asia contained dioxin and was responsible for deaths, debilities, miscarriages, and birth defects suffered by members of the plaintiff class. Class members argued that the manufacturers of the defoliant, seven major chemical companies, knew that it was tainted and should be made to compensate them for their injuries, claiming billions of dollars in damages. The case received national exposure and became a rallying point for veterans, a means they hoped to use to publicize their plight and to spur Congress to come to their aid. On the eve of trial, the case was settled. The defendants, who denied liability throughout the pretrial period, agreed to pay the veterans $180 million. In turn, the plaintiff class agreed to drop the suit. Thus ended a controversy which not only presented novel legal issues and tested the ability of the federal courts to handle complex lawsuits, but concerned the well-being of a large number of veterans, their spouses, and their handicapped children as well



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Jules Coleman
The Rockefeller University (Alumnus)

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The Assumption of Risk Argument.Leo Katz - 1990 - Social Philosophy and Policy 7 (2):138.

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Legal Paternalism.Joel Feinberg - 1971 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):105 - 124.

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