Maine widow gets Agent Orange settlement

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in News

Maine widow gets Agent Orange settlement

Airplane spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Photo courtesy of the Department for Veterans' Affairs.

SOUTH PORTLAND – In 2000, Ethel Brown, the widow of a Vietnam War veteran, made a claim for benefits based on her belief that her husband had contracted stomach cancer and subsequently died because of Agent Orange exposure during his service in Vietnam. Thomas T. Brown Jr. had done two tours of duty in Vietnam and Ethel Brown contended that she should be granted DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) benefits. 

In 2008 Brown hired the law firm of Jackson & MacNichol to represent her when her claim had reached the Court of Appeals for Veterans' Claims in Washington, D.C. (Docket No. 07-2220). The firm persuasively briefed the case and on July 1, 2009, Judge Davis wrote a single-judge opinion reversing the unfavorable decision by the Board of Veterans' Appeals and remanding the case for a new hearing by the board.

The turning point of the case came when a local oncologist who is also a professor at the University of New England Medical School in Maine, Dr. Brian Dorsk, explained that although stomach cancer is not one of the many cancers that has been associated with Agent Orange, based on the limited studies available he felt that it was as probable as not that Brown’s stomach cancer was related to his exposure to Agent Orange. After weighing the medical opinions provided by the VA opposing Brown’s claim and Dorsk’s opinion that the chemicals which make up Agent Orange could have caused the cancer, the board found in Brown’s favor.

This was a huge victory because no one else in the country has succeeded in persuading the board that stomach cancer could be caused by Agent Orange.

Brown will now get her monthly benefits retroactive to the filing of her claim back in 2000.

blog comments powered by Disqus