This is the first time that a lawsuit by an Agent Orange victim suing companies that manufactured and supplied toxic chemicals for the US Military during the Vietnam War is tried in court. Previously, the lawsuits of US and Korean veterans infected with Agent Orange during Vietnam War were only resolved “outside the court”, while the lawsuit of the victims of Agent Orange. Orange/dioxin Vietnam was not accepted by the Supreme Court of the United States, despite public objection.
Ms. Tran To Nga was born in 1942 in the province of Soc Trang in the south of Vietnam. In 1954, she and her family were moved to the North. In 1965, after graduating from university, she returned to the South to work as a reporter for the Liberation News Agency (now the Vietnam News Agency). During her time as a war correspondent, she was exposed to Agent Orange sprayed by the US Military, after which she contracted many diseases, and her health deteriorated severely, affecting her children. Her first child died at the age of 17 months, while her second child had hemolytic disease (Alpha Thalassemia). In 1993, she moved to live in France, became a French citizen, but still keeps her Vietnamese nationality.
On May 14, 2014, Nga filed a lawsuit to the Evry Court to sue 26 US chemical companies for supplying Agent Orange for the US Military use in Vietnam War, causing serious consequences for the health of her and her children. Her lawsuit was jointly named by Attorney William Bourdon of the William Bourdon and associates Law Firm.
The case of Ms. Tran To Nga is a civil lawsuit in which she filed the lawsuit as a French citizen, basing on the French law.
Because the defendants' lawyers tried to delay the trial, since the time Nga filed the lawsuit until this trial, all summoned trials were just the proceedings.
The trial on January 25, 2021 lasted for one day. The judges have heard the lawyers of both sides, yet there was still no judgment.
The fact that Ms. Tran To Nga sued the US chemical companies that produced and supplied Agent Orange for the US Military to use during the war in Vietnam was widely supported by the French public and others. In France, the group of organisations supporting victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam has founded a Committee to support the lawsuit and has conducted many activities to support her in this lawsuit. Prior to the trial, nearly 200 famous French mayors, MPs and noble men had signed in a petition to support the lawsuit. Receiving her on 12/12/2016, Mars Di Bartolomeo, Luxembourgish President of the Chamber of Deputies praised her struggle as “a just and brave fight”. Also supporting Nga, an American lawyer sent her 6,000 pages of documents serving the lawsuit.
Nga sued the US chemical companies as a French citizen, but she was exposed to Agent Orange during her combat service in Vietnam and became a victim of Agent Orange. Therefore, the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) and Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange strongly support her lawsuit. Right after she filed the lawsuit, on June 13, 2014, the Association issued a statement supporting her. Then, on April 9, 2015, VAVA’s President sent an open letter to Evry's Court, proposing a strict trial of her claim. The Association has also called for its member organisations and its members to actively organise activities to support Nga’s case. The Association's member organisations have gathered more than 400,000 signatures to support the lawsuit and raised hundreds of million VND for her to pay for the cost of the case.
The Evry Court's trial of the lawsuit is the right thing, demonstrating the fairness of French law, in accordance with the legal standards and morality of a progressive society and the wishes of all who respect and protect justice. On December 4, 2020, Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, VAVA’s President sent an open letter to the Chief Justice, the judges and jurors, who conduct the trial of the case, reminding the crimes that US chemical companies had inflicted on Vietnamese people and expressing his wish that the Chief Justices, the judges, and the jurors would “consider the correct judgment of US chemical companies and the level of harm that toxic chemicals of these companies have caused to Nga and her family so that a plausible judgment would be made, forcing the chemical companies to be sued to compensate Nga appropriately.
We also hope that the Evry Court would act in this manner!