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Anthrax Victim Widow Sues Gov’t for $50M

September 25, 2003

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ The widow of a photo editor killed in the nation’s first anthrax attack in 2001 sued the federal government on Wednesday, alleging that lax security at an Army lab caused his death.

Maureen Stevens is seeking more than $50 million in what is believed to be the first lawsuit to attempt to hold the government accountable for producing and mishandling the deadly strain.

Robert Stevens, an editor for The Sun tabloid, is believed to have contracted the disease from a tainted letter sent to the Boca Raton headquarters of American Media Inc.

Anthrax also was sent through the mail to media outlets in New York and a congressional building in Washington, killing four people and sickening more than a dozen. No one has been charged in the attacks.

The Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., is the primary custodian of the strain of anthrax found in envelopes sent to the victims.

Stevens’ attorney, Richard Schuler, said she hopes to force the government to press its investigation and provide answers to the victims’ families.

An Army spokesman declined comment on the lawsuit.

A postal worker who survived the anthrax attack also has sued, but his claim targets postal officials at Washington’s Brentwood facility. Leroy Richmond is asking for $100 million, alleging postal managers endangered his life by waiting too long to close the facility after anthrax was discovered.

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