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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.

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

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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