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Ten years later, settlement reached in lawsuit over anthrax death

When the death of a loved one is caused by someone else's negligence, family members are left wondering whether the negligent person or entity can be held responsible.

A settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit between the federal government and the widow of a man who died approximately 10 years ago. The man died as a result of receiving anthrax spores sent through the mail.

The man was a photo editor for a newspaper in Florida and was the first of several who were killed in the infamous anthrax attacks that targeted several cities in the U.S. The widow believed that her husband's death was caused by the federal government's negligence. She argued that the government should have taken proper security measures to prevent the anthrax from being used outside the confines of the military lab where it was stored.

An official investigation concluded that the anthrax used in the letters had its source in a single laboratory under the control of a scientist employed by the Army. After focusing the investigation on this scientist, federal prosecutors planned to bring criminal charges against him in connection with the attacks but were unable to - he took his own life.

This settlement should not only help the widow with some of the expenses that came with the unexpected death but could also pave the way for other anthrax victims to bring a lawsuit against the government. Family members of the others who were killed in the anthrax attack may have standing to sue as well.

Source: Reuters: "Deal reached in U.S. 2001 anthrax death suit: filing," Pascal Fletcher, Oct. 30, 2011

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