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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ruling backs downwinders

A major ruling Friday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for 1,000 to 2,000 Hanford "downwinders" to sue Hanford contractors for radiation damages.

New downwinder trials ordered

Three of six "bellwether" plaintiffs in a massive lawsuit over the health impact of radioactive emissions from Hanford during nuclear weapons production will get new trials and a fourth will have her favorable jury verdict reviewed.

Verdict may help downwinders

The half-billion dollar Valentine's Day federal jury verdict in the Rocky Flats nuclear contamination case puts more pressure on the government to settle its remaining cases, including the big Hanford downwinders' lawsuit being litigated in Spokane, according to lawyers representing plaintiffs in both cases. A federal jury in Denver recommended that two Rocky Flats contractors, the former Rockwell International Corp. and the Dow Chemical Co., pay $553.9 million to thousands of property owners who claimed their land was contaminated with plutonium from the facility, which closed in 1989. Rocky Flats made triggers for nuclear bombs from plutonium made at Hanford during the Cold War.

Jury rejects Rhodes’ lawsuit

A federal jury on Wednesday rejected the claims of Shannon Rhodes, a Coeur d'Alene woman who said she was exposed as a child on the Palouse to clouds of radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation that caused her terminal illness. Rhodes, 64, suffers from an aggressive thyroid cancer that she argued was triggered by emissions of radioactive iodine-131 from Hanford's plutonium manufacturing plants starting in 1944 when she was 3 years old. But the jury didn't agree.

Hanford witness faced lawsuit

A doctor testifying for Hanford contractors that people exposed to low doses of radiation from the nuclear facility are unlikely to get thyroid cancer was sued for unethical conduct in a Chicago hospital study, according to attorneys for Hanford downwinder Shannon Rhodes in the ongoing trial in U.S. District Court. Dr. Arthur B. Schneider, an endocrinologist and researcher at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, testified late Thursday and Friday morning for Hanford contractors E.I. duPont de Nemours and General Electric Co.

Hanford workers’ comp claims will get federal review

YAKIMA – A federal institute has agreed to review workers' compensation benefits available to former weapons workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., requested the review last month, citing a recent audit at the south-central Washington site that found insufficient data about workers' radiation exposure between 1944 and 1968.

Downwinder has burden of proof, defense lawyer says

Shannon Rhodes of Coeur d'Alene has a rare form of thyroid cancer that was not caused by radioactive contamination from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the 1940s, a lawyer for the defendant Hanford contractors said Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. In his opening statement to the jury, attorney Kevin Van Wart said Rhodes' attorneys will have to prove over the next two weeks that Rhodes' cancer was "more likely than not" caused by radioactive iodine-131 from Hanford – a burden of proof he says they can't meet.

Downwinder expected to die within 2 years

The federal jury empaneled Monday in a retrial for Hanford downwinder Shannon Rhodes was told her aggressive thyroid cancer cannot be stopped and she is expected to die within two years. Rhodes, 64, wrapped herself in a pink shawl in the cool courtroom and watched intently as prospective jurors were questioned.

Stakes are high as downwinder’s trial gets started

Shannon Rhodes of Coeur d'Alene, a farm child from Colfax, Wash., who was exposed to dangerous airborne radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the 1940s and later developed thyroid cancer, is getting a second trial starting today in U.S. District Court in Spokane. On May 19, a 12-member federal jury in the high-profile Hanford downwinders' case deadlocked 10-2 over Rhodes, one of six "bellwether" plaintiffs thought to be representative of thousands of other exposed and ailing people who, in 1990, sued the private contractors who ran Hanford's plutonium factories during World War II and the early days of the Cold War.

Hanford verdict upsets lead juror

Justice was not served in the recent Hanford downwinders' trial when the jury deadlocked over a Coeur d'Alene woman whose thyroid cancer returned aggressively during the trial without the jury's knowledge, the lead juror asserts. The 12-member federal jury awarded two other plaintiffs with thyroid cancers more than $500,000, but rejected three claims by people with autoimmune thyroid disease, saying their illnesses were likely not caused by Hanford's emissions of radioactive iodine-131 during World War II and the early years of the Cold War.

Hanford illness claims split jury

Six Inland Northwest residents received a split decision Thursday in the long-running legal battle over the health effects of the federal government's nuclear weapons program. But it's uncertain how that decision will shape the battles of more than 2,000 other people who lived downwind from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and have claims against the private contractors who operated Hanford through World War II and into the Cold War.

Hanford downwinder case goes to jury

After nearly two days of arguments by attorneys on whether doctors or scientists are more believable, the case of six Washington residents who say they were injured by radiation from a nuclear weapons plant went to a federal jury Friday afternoon. At the suggestion of U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielsen, the jury went home for the weekend and will begin deliberating Monday the case involving six people who grew up downwind from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Hanford companies deny radiation impact

Companies that ran the nuclear weapons production at Hanford are trying to deny their radiation made people sick much the way the tobacco industry denied smoking caused lung cancer, attorneys for six central Washington residents told a federal jury Thursday. But a lawyer for General Electric and DuPont, which ran plutonium production at the nuclear reservation in the 1940s and 1950s, urged the jury to be guided by science and not swayed by sympathy.

”Downwinders” get day in court

After 15 years of waiting for their day in court, six "downwinders" who claim their health was ruined by invisible radiation clouds from Hanford's plutonium plants met the jury that will decide their case. "This is a red-letter day. Finally, we have the first day of trial," U.S. District Court Judge William Fremming Nielsen said at a final pretrial hearing early Monday before the six-man, six-woman jury was chosen. The Hanford trial is expected to last four to five weeks.

Attorneys spar in Hanford hearing

Lawyers for Hanford contractors have committed a "fraud on the court" by hiding documents that show how a major study of Hanford radiation releases was set up to defend the government from lawsuits by minimizing estimated doses to the public, a lawyer for Hanford downwinders said Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. That assertion from Seattle attorney Tom Foulds got an angry response from Kevin Van Wart of Kirkland & Ellis, the lead attorney from Chicago defending General Electric Co. and DuPont, private contractors who ran Hanford for the government during World War II and the Cold War.

Radiation study set up as defense, records show

A $27 million Hanford study that was the first to estimate radiation doses to the public from a U. S. weapons complex was touted as unbiased and scientifically neutral when it got under way in 1988.