LANTANA, Fla. - Lantana widow Maureen Stevens has settled a $50 million lawsuit with the federal government over deadly anthrax letter bombs that killed her husband and four others while the nation was still reeling from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jason Weisser, one of her attorneys, said he couldn't divulge the terms of the settlement until it is formally approved by the U.S. Justice Department. The accord, he said, was hashed out last week during a mediation session with government attorneys.
Less than a month ago, Stevens said she wanted the case to go to trial in January.
"I want it out in the open. I want it known how it happened," she told a Palm Beach Post reporter for a story that ran on the 10-year anniversary of tabloid photo editor Robert Stevens' Oct. 5, 2001 death.
Weisser said he, too, would have liked a public airing of what he called lax security at the government research lab in Maryland.
The trial, he said, would have also tested the FBI's much-criticized claims that the attacks were carried out solely by Bruce Ivins, a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Ivins killed himself by overdosing on Tylenol in July 2008, days before agents said he was to be charged in connection with the attacks that also hit Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. and news outlets in New York City.
Still, Weisser said, the settlement is a good one.
"The big thing she was so pleased about was that the security protocols are so much better today than they were before," he said.
Robert Stevens inhaled anthrax when opening the mail at American Media Inc., in Boca Raton, the home of the National Enquirer and other publications. The British-born Stevens worked for the tabloid The Sun.
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department declined comment on the settlement.
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