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Electrocuted soldier’s family, KBR battle over documents

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Electrocuted soldier’s family, KBR battle over documents

Tuesday, March 03, 2009
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Attorneys representing the family of a solider who was electrocuted in a shower in Iraq have filed a motion for sanctions against the other side, claiming that its release of documents to the media last month violates a local federal court rule.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer held a hearing on the matter this morning. She will issue a decision at a later date.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, was electrocuted on Jan. 2, 2008. His parents, Cheryl Harris and Douglas Maseth, filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against KBR Inc., a military contractor, accusing it of failing to maintain the electrical infrastructure at a former estate of Saddam Hussein where their son was staying.

Just hours after a Feb. 19 status conference, the plaintiffs’ lawyers say, KBR’s office of corporate communications sent two documents to local media outlets “in an effort to ‘spin’ the facts about their negligence in performing electrical work in Iraq.”

They claimed that the documents provided by KBR “contained factual inaccuracies, misleading innuendo and assertions that are at odds with statements made on the record and under oath in the proceedings of this case.”

The plaintiffs also claim that KBR released the documents to influence the court and potential jury panel.

During the hearing this morning, Stephen J. Del Sole, who represents Sgt. Maseth’s family, said that KBR pushed for a confidentiality order in the case but then violated it.

“The confidentiality agreement is blown,” he said. “They can’t selectively choose what they disclose to the media.”

But KBR attorney Joseph L. Luciana III said his clients had no choice but to send the documents to the media to correct false information that KBR was responsible for 16 electrocution deaths.

“That statement is outright false,” Mr. Luciana said. “KBR has the absolute right and the duty to go out and tell truth about what happened here.

“We have a constitutional right to defend ourselves against negative, misleading information.” (Click HERE for original article)

I have a question for KBR’s attorneys. What kind of attorney does it take to defend and protect a company like KBR from the grieving family of a dead soldier? At the end of the day, is it just about the money?

Ms Sparky

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One Comment

  1. Comment by Baboo Remembers:

    Most ICC Building Officials are Architects or Engineers with multi-licensing and also over see plan check as well. A single licensed individual is great but does not have the rest of the credentials needed to implement, regulate and oversee the many other aspects of a building inspection department. Call your local stateside jurisdiction and ask the Building Official what his educational background is. He might even say he even has a Bachelors of Science in Construction Management as well.

    If KBR thinks they are going to solve their problems by hiring a single licensed individual to solve their all of their building inspection issues, this is more incompetence, starting at KBR Corporate and directly transferring to Project Management. Remember this; that during the trial of now deceased Nazi’s the excuse, “I was only following orders” was not a viable defense as with Saddam’s leadership regarding war crimes.

    KBR’s lawyer knows in contract law the primary contractor and every sub-contractor and all responsible parties from management on down are usually listed in the suit. This is why Senior KBR Project Management and Human Resources officials are scared. They are as liable as those who chose to ignore basic safety procedures and not those who were told to continue by their immediate superiors.

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