A federal district judge fined the federal Veterans Administration (VA) $115,000 for "recklessly" destroying thousands of documents it had been ordered to produce in a lawsuit by veterans who say they were exposed to excessive radiation. The judge said she would appoint a special master to oversee the agency, to assure that no further evidence is destroyed or withheld and she warned the agency against further harassment of employees who testified against the agency at the hearing.
The ruling said "there is significant circumstantial evidence" to show that, during the summer of 1986, officials of the VA consciously purged their files of any documents that would be helpful to the veterans' case.
Witnesses testified that VA workers who questioned the legality of the destruction were threatened by
supervisors. The group filing the lawsuit, the National Association of Radiation Survivors, represents
thousands of veterans who were exposed to life-threatening doses of radiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Japan--where the first atomic bombs were exploded in 1945-and at later nuclear tests after World War II.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: fines; veterans administration; lawsuits; veterans; radiation; national association of radiation survivors; hiroshima; nagasaki; nuclear weapons; corruption; va; radiation;