Final Hanford downwinder claimant appeals dismissal

The first, and also final, plaintiff in the Hanford downwinder lawsuit is appealing the dismissal of the claim in the decades-long lawsuit to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. Judge William Fremming Nielsen issued an order dismissing the claim and closing the lawsuit at the end of January. Only one claim in the case, for the estate of Frieda Seaman, had come forward when the judge ordered anyone to speak up who objected to the closure.

Seaman’s family had filed its claim in Oregon in 1988 and it was consolidated in 1991 with other claims that followed in federal court in Eastern Washington. People living downwind of Hanford in the 1940s and 1950s said their health was damaged by radioactive releases from the nuclear reservation during plutonium production.

Nielsen found that the Seaman claim had not been diligently pursued in recent years and dismissed it. The Seaman attorney said there had been little to do in recent years.

All other claims have been settled, dropped or dismissed in the lawsuit brought against early Hanford contractors. Settlements are the responsibility of the federal government, which indemnified contractors.