Lantana Woman Settles $50M Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Anthrax Letter Bomb that Killed Her Husband

Maureen Stevens has settled her $50M wrongful death case against the federal government. Stevens is the widow of Bob Stevens, who was one of five people that died in 2001 after inhaling anthrax while opening mail at American Media. Inc (the home of the National Inquirer) in Boca Raton. He was a tabloid photographer. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Had the Florida wrongful death case gone to trial, it would have once more brought to the forefront the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s claims that Bruce Ivins, an U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases researcher, was the only one behind the attacks. The air mail assault came on the heels of the 9/11 plane crashes. The government said that Ivins, who had a history of mental illness, created and mailed the spores. He later committed suicide before he could be charged over the attacks.

In her wrongful death claim, Stevens blamed the government’s inadequate security for allowing Ivins, a “mentally unstable man,” access to the “deadliest substances.” She also claimed that the anthrax bacillus was not properly secured at a military lab.

Stevens contended that the government owed not just a duty but also the “highest degree of care” in supervising and checking who was allowed access to anthrax. She was dismayed that Ivins took part in investigating the “crime he committed.”

17 others became ill from the anthrax-tainted mail.

Suing the Federal Government
Every civil lawsuit is unique, which is why you should speak with an experienced Miami wrongful death lawyer about your options. Although it is generally challenging to sue the federal government for negligence committed by their employees, there are exceptions to this. For example, there is the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) , which lets plaintiffs bring forth certain kinds of complaints against federal employees that acted within the scope of their government jobs.

Deal reached in U.S. 2001 anthrax death suit: filing, Reuters, October 31, 2011
Lantana anthrax widow settles $50 million lawsuit against federal government, Sun-Sentinel, October 28, 2011
Anthrax Suspect’s Death Is Dark End for a Family Man, NY Times, August 2, 2011
Suing the Government for Negligence: The Federal Tort Claims Act, NOLO

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