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Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial News

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Larry Roberta and wife Michelle (Photo by Mike Francis / The Oregonian)

A Halloween word: Boo!lean. Also, a note about KBR’s financials and a doctor’s testimony
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 30, 2012 -The defense has rested in the case of Bixby et al., vs. KBR Inc. All that is left will be for the judge to instruct the jury and the lawyers to make their closing arguments. The jury will have the case early afternoon on Halloween.

A few notes from the afternoon, in descending order of importance.

1.) The medical expert called by KBR Inc., Dr. David Weill, a pulmonologist at Stanford University Medical Center, examined the medical histories of each of the 12 soldier-plaintiffs, dating from before, during and after their time in Iraq in 2003. In each case, he said, the symptoms the soldiers cite in the lawsuit — symptoms such as reflux disease, asthma and a skin rash — could not be associated with their service at Qarmat Ali. He said the symptoms included some pre-existing medical conditions, or weren’t reported until long after the deployment — too remote in time to be associated with exposure to hexavalent chromium nine years ago.

2.) Since Magistrate Judge Paul Papak has ruled that KBR Inc. remains as a defendant in this case, the soldiers’ lawyers seek to introduce some information about the company’s financial picture. That could be meaningful if the jury decides to award damages to the soldiers.

Interestingly, at least to (former) business wonks, the soldiers’ lawyers and KBR’s lawyers had very different ideas about what financial information should be included in the casefile. KBR said the most appropriate thing would be a one-line entry from the company’s 10-k statement showing the company’s net income, also loosely referred to as earnings, profits or the bottom line.  (Click HERE for original article)

Tuesday morning in the KBR case: What the Army knew and when, and who it told
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 30, 2012 – Lawyers for KBR Inc. have saved some of their most powerful testimony for nearly the end of the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland. They presented recorded testimony on video from two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees who spent time at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant in spring and summer of 2003, when soldiers of the Oregon, Indiana, South Carolina and West Virginia National Guard provided security there.

It can be difficult to follow the video testimony, which can be choppy because of editing, and when answers given in “cross-examination” were actually delivered earlier in the recorded conversation.

Nevertheless, an Army Corps of Engineers chemist named Chris Kennedy, who first visited Qarmat Ali in May, when Oregon soldiers were still serving there, said he became aware of the presence of sodium dichromate as early as his first trip to the site. Sodium dichromate contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, which can cause lung cancer if absorbed into the lungs in sufficient volumes. A set of 12 Oregon Guard soldiers and veterans are suing KBR, accusing it of knowingly exposing them to the chemical hazard — an accusation that KBR denies. (Click HERE for article)

Nine years and 7,200 miles later, soldier and Army doc share a room again
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 29, 2012 – For the first time since Bixby et al., vs. KBR Inc. began, a uniformed military officer took the stand — and he was called as a witness by KBR, the defense contractor being sued by a set of 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers and veterans.

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