Postal workers sue over anthrax exposure

A group of Washington-area Postal Service employees who claim they were deliberately left in harm's way during the 2001 anthrax attacks plan to file a class action suit Wednesday against the agency.

Brentwood Exposed, a group professing to represent hundreds of current and former postal workers, allege that Postmaster General John Potter and other agency leaders violated the employees' Fifth Amendment rights by withholding information relating to contamination at the Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. Processing and Distribution Center, formerly known as the Brentwood Mail Processing and Distribution Center. The facility was renamed to honor two workers who died as a result of the anthrax attacks.

The group's organizers declined to comment for this story, but have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at the National Press Club in downtown Washington. Lawyers from Judicial Watch, a Washington-based government watchdog organization representing Brentwood Exposed, did not return phone calls.

Sources familiar with the litigation, however, said the group would rely on copies of a personal log kept by Timothy Haney, manager of the plant, that it obtained through the 1974 Freedom of Information Act. One entry, they said, suggests that Haney and other postal executives knew the Brentwood facility was contaminated several days before they decided to close it down.

Postal executives have said they took their cues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It wasn't until the CDC confirmed contamination that the facility was shut down. Postal Service officials did not return calls for this story.

Members of Brentwood Exposed note that Senate office buildings were closed immediately after an anthrax-tainted letter was opened in the office of Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The suit is similar to one filed by former Brentwood worker Leroy Richmond. Along with Curseen and Morris, Richmond was among the first employees to show signs of anthrax exposure, including a high fever, headaches and tightness in the chest. Richmond's health problems persist. He hasn't been back to work since October 2001.

"He's losing the experience of being able to be active with his [9-year old] son," said Gregory Lattimer, Richmond's attorney. Lattimer charges that the agency acted with"deliberate indifference" by not moving quickly to safeguard employees. Richmond is seeking millions in damages. A trial date has not yet been set.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.