Former U.S. military personnel who were injured by mustard gas during Gulf War sued Alcolac under products liability and negligence theories. The court selected a bellwether plaintiff, and, in that case, entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant based on the finding that the plaintiff in question had failed to present sufficient evidence that the mustard gas to which he was exposed was manufactured with TDG supplied by Alcolac.
Before Alcolac could move for summary judgment against the rest of the plaintiffs, they amended their complaint, alleging that Alcolac knowingly and/or recklessly sold large quantities of TDG to agents of the government of Iraq in violation of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which at least arguably relaxes the causation standard.
The Act excludes, however, claims for injuries or losses by reason of an act of war.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit rejected plaintiffs’ argument that Iraq’s use of mustard gas exceeded the basic norms and rules established by the laws of war. The JASTA does not, the Court found, contain any suggestion that the act-of-war exception applies only to acts of war that conform to international law. “Instead, the exception broadly covers any act occurring in the course of armed conflict, whether or not war has been declared.”
Adams v. Alcolac, 974 F.3d 540 (5th Cir. 2020).