Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial News
Company asks judge to be left out of suit
Soldiers say firm exposed them to toxin at water plant
(Associated Press) – PORTLAND – October 28, 2012 – Iraq War contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root has asked a federal judge in Portland to remove its name from an ongoing suit by 12 Oregon soldiers and replace it with a smaller subsidiary.
They note that KBR Inc. wasn’t formed until 2006, three years after the soldiers say the company knowingly exposed them to a carcinogen at a water treatment plant in southern Iraq.
The only proper defendant, the company argues, is the subsidiary.
The soldiers’ attorneys have rested their case. In testimony that began Oct. 10, the plaintiffs argued that KBR knew a critical southern Iraq oilfield plant was riddled with a well-known toxin but ignored the risk to soldiers while hurrying the project along, firing a whistleblower and covering up the presence of the chemical when faced with exposure.
The soldiers say they suffer from respiratory ailments after their exposure. They are the first suit to go to trial in a case being watched nationally. Another suit from Oregon plaintiffs is on hold, as is a case from Texas soldiers, while the Portland trial plays out.
The defense has been calling medical experts to testify that the soldiers didn’t suffer harm from exposure to the carcinogen.
The trial resumes on Monday, after U.S. District Court Judge Paul Papak decides whether to keep KBR Inc. as a plaintiff or replace them with the subsidiary. (Click HERE for article)
Friday: Experts and lawyers wrangle over skin, air and soil in KBR case
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 26, 2012 – On Friday, jurors in the case brought by Oregon soldiers against KBR Inc. heard from a Portland dermatologist and a Fremont, Calif., physicist, both of whom said they didn’t believe the soldiers suffered harm from the presence of sodium dichromate at a water treatment plant in southern Iraq in 2003.
Even given the uncertainties surrounding soil samples taken from the site, and wind levels calculated to have been present, the soldiers’ potential exposure to hexavalent chromium “is so much lower than the level of concern” that it seems clear they weren’t endangered, said Paolo Zannetti, of the the EnviroComp Institute of Fremont, Calif.
And Dr. Patricia Norris, a Portland dermatologist who operates a clinic and serves on the faculty at OHSU, said that none of the 12 Oregon soldiers showed symptoms of contact or allergic dermatitis as the result of any exposure to hexavalent chromium. She based her analysis on a review of the soldiers’ medical records and testimony given in the case, as she has not examined or tested any of the soldiers. (Click HERE for article)
Thursday in the KBR case: Long day on the stand for a toxicologist
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 26, 2012 -Barbara D. Beck was called by KBR Inc. to testify about her studies of the effects of hexavalent chromium on the dozen Oregon soldiers who are suing the company. The hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen, was contained in a chemical compound in use at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant when it was being operated by the Southern Oil Co. before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
In great detail, she described the calculations she did to conclude that none of the Oregon soldiers suffered significant increased threats to their health as a result of their time at Qarmat Ali.
She examined the routes to exposure — ingestion, inhalation and contact with the skin — and concluded that her calculations for the time each soldier spent at the site, combined with soil and air samples taken from the site, means that each fell far short of U.S. standards for dangerous levels of exposure to hexavalent chromium. (Click HERE for article)
The KBR case at the midpoint: An analysis
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 24, 2012 – While some see it as a fight between David and Goliath, 12 lonely Oregon National Guard veterans against defense contractor KBR Inc., — a third party is conspicuously absent from the contest playing out in federal court in Portland.