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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Dismisses Pacific Nuclear Test Lawsuits

(CN) - The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal of a claim to enforce a multimillion-dollar settlement for residents of the Marshall Islands over nuclear testing that took place there in the 1940s and 1950s.

The U.S. government had removed residents of the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls from their homes before conducting nuclear tests there.

The island was devastated and contaminated with radioactive fallout, while the residents dealt with squalid conditions in their new homes.

In 1984, the residents reached a settlement agreement with the government. It created a Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which awarded the residents $386 million in 2000.

However, three years later, the tribunal had paid out less than 1 percent of that total. The tribunal fund had just $1 million left in 2006.

The residents sued for the rest of their money and for the destruction of their land. The Court of Federal Claims ruled that the language of the settlement agreement deprived any U.S. court of jurisdiction.

Judge Rader of the Washington, D.C.-based federal appeals court agreed.

"The language of the settlement agreement is clear," Rader wrote. "'No court of the United States shall have jurisdiction to entertain such claims, and any such claims pending in the courts of the United States shall be dismissed.'"

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