The lawsuit was filed Tuesday.
In a report by the Associated Press (AP) and published by the Record-Journal (10/04/17) out of Meriden, Connecticut, it’s been revealed that a B-52 Bomber and a refueling plane collided with one another during a routine mid-air refueling on January 17, 1966. The mishap occurred near the southern Spanish village of Palomares.
A total of seven (of eleven) crew members lost their lives in the mid-air collision, but there were no casualties on the ground when four US hydrogen bombs were released and fell to the ground, when the two aircraft collided,.
While the bombs themselves did not detonate, two of the detonators employed to trigger the bombs went off, scattering a total of seven pounds’ worth of highly radioactive Plutonium 239 across the landscape below.
With highly classified weaponry now on the ground, 1,600 service personnel were dispatched to retrieve the weapons. In so doing, say plaintiffs, they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation for weeks if not months at a time while actively engaged in the recovery process.
Service personnel who claim adverse health issues from the radiation exposure have been fighting for benefits ever since. On Tuesday, students of Yale Law School filed a denied disability lawsuit on behalf the Connecticut chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America and Anthony Maloni, an ex-serviceman from Agawam, in Massachusetts.
Now 72, AP reports that Maloni was 21 when he was assigned to Palomares to participate in the recovery effort. Maloni subsequently developed psoriasis, eczema, alopecia, bronchitis, high blood pressure and ischemic heart disease. Court documents also describe Maloni as suffering from excruciating migraine headaches.
Maloni alleges his health issues are due to frequent exposure to radiation stemming from that 1966 incident.
AP reports that veterans who became ill from their role in the Palomares recovery have been fighting the US Department of Defense for years in an effort to obtain disability benefits. However, their claims have been consistently denied. AP reports that for five decades, the US Department of Defense has refused to release medical records, testing results and other information that would support claims for disability benefits.
READ MORE DENIED DISABILITY INSURANCE LEGAL NEWS
“Palomares veterans have waited decades for even basic information about the medical risks that prolonged exposure to radioactive plutonium dust carries,” said Patti Dumin, president of the Connecticut State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, in comments to AP. “They cannot wait any longer. The Pentagon owes them answers.”
The denied disability lawsuit also asserts the United States Air Force failed to protect their charges from radiation poisoning, and failed to warn them about the potential danger.
The lawsuit was filed October 2 in federal court in Connecticut. There was no case information available at press time. The US Defense Department would not comment on pending litigation.