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Burn-pit claimants will appeal judge’s dismissal

Patricia Kime – (Air Force Times) – June 4, 2013 – Attorneys representing former troops and family members who say they were sickened by exposure to open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan are appealing a judge’s dismissal of their cases.

Alexandria, Va., lawyer Susan Burke and attorneys from the South Carolina firm Motley & Rice filed an appeal Wednesday arguing that Maryland U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus’s decision in February to toss out 57 consolidated lawsuits filed against KBR, Inc., was “non-justifiable.”

Titus ruled Feb. 28 that as a government contractor working in a war zone, KBR was entitled to the same legal protection and immunity as U.S. armed forces operating in combat. He also argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to rule on decisions made by another branch of government.

But in their appeal filed in the Fourth Circuit, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said KBR often did not follow military directives while operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, effectively negating any “sovereign immunity” the company may have had.

The U.S. military relied for years on KBR-operated burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of debris such as garbage, medical waste, plastics, batteries and computers.

The plaintiffs say the smoke produced by the pits contained toxins like dioxin and volatile organic compounds that have caused respiratory disease, neurological disorders and cancer.

In his decision in February, Titus cited an observation by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman that “war is hell,” adding “the military frequently calls upon civilians and civilian contractors to aid in the fulfillment of its missions under often hellacious combat conditions.”

He added that U.S. interests could be “compromised if if military contractors were left ‘holding the bag’ for claims made by military and other personnel that could not be made against the military itself.”

KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown and Root and once a subsidiary of defense contractor Halliburton, faces a number of ongoing lawsuits regarding its business operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A federal judge last month upheld an $81 million award to be paid by KBR to 12 Oregon National Guardsmen who were exposed to the carcinogen hexavalent chromium during cleanup operations at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq in 2003.

The company is expected to appeal that decision.

A separate suit, also involving Qarmat Ali, has been filed in U.S. District Court in Texas.

Several service members and families also have sued KBR for injuries or electrocutions resulting from inadequate or faulty electrical systems in company-constructed buildings and facilities overseas.

Titus cited an appeals court decision in one of those cases — Taylor v. Kellogg, Brown and Root Services — as setting “binding precedence” that the contractor is immune from suits. The court decided that the “political question doctrine” applies, preventing the judiciary from reviewing some actions taken by the executive or legislative branches. (Click HERE for original article)

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37 Comments

  1. Comment by christopher columbus:

    This is very odd to me as I was offered a settlement of 35k for respritory ailments (chronic bronchitus, etc) which was deemed to be attributed to burn-pits in Afghanistan during the last few years. I was not a soldier but a contractor. I think I’m going to take the 35k as it is probably better than nothing. I never had a lawyer or attempted to sue…..they came to me. Any thoughts?

    • Comment by Vectorman:

      CC, Consider yourself lucky! There are hundreds of us who will never receive a dime for the damages those burn pits produced inside of us. Long term effects are showing up due to the daily exposures of the plastic ladened smoke that would engulf our camps. I worked dozens of FOBs in Afghanistan, seeing the same problems occur at each and every camp. Having pulled pesticides, tires and so many known cancer producers from those burn pits I am surprised there aren’t more comments about this subject. Take the money and run!

    • Comment by Mark:

      I had 4+ leg infections from Iraq. I worked there 5 years first 14 months Convoy, Warehousing in Baghdad Green zone, Equipment operation Camp Liberty, F.O.B. Dogwood(I was on a 6-8k pushing all kinds of stuff into the Burnpit) one side was KBR’s the other side The Military’s, and Potable Water Green Zone Baghdad, Iraq. I’ve been paying for it ever since. I have been in the CASH Hostpital Baghdad, Iraq twice, once I was brought in by blackhawk from Camp Liberty, another one by KBR medics in the Green Zone, and twice in hospitals in Kuwait each time it usually took 2-3 days to tackle the infection. One time I went home for 5 weeks for healing and went right back to Camp Liberty. ANd I also recieved a small scalp infection from Convoy. I was driving those Green Freightliners with no A/C. Windows down and walmart armor well that little piece of steal to keep some scrapenal out. And pouring boiling 1 liter or so bottle of water(scalding hot) over myself to cool off for a few minutes, especially while waiting for E.O.D. Or after passing thru a couple Dust devils from Hell. And in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Ira qthey put me to 2 weeks of Bedrest. Thank God I had unused sick days. So most of it was covered. My Boss really helped me out. He was cool anyway. That was very hard to get a good Boss there. My Bosses were from England. Good Luck

  2. Comment by Larry Isbell:

    Station at Taji during OIF II. What to know more on burn pit, and is there anything on how they destory oil after pipelines were blown? They did a burn off, which blown into to Taji for weeks at a time.

  3. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    Take it and go slither back to your rock you slithered out from.

  4. Comment by old salty:

    If they came to you then I would see a Lawyer. They want to get out cheap. I would also call them and ask for much more and see what happens. Optimus you are a prime example of what is wrong with the US society. Are you now not making all that good money as before? Are you working at a job that you think is beneath you? Maybe it is then market forces or you are getting paid now what you are worth which is not much.

    • Comment by Optimus Prime:

      Nope. Im out of Iraq, making about less than Iraq, but still very good money and happy. I am still at the same level I was when I was in Iraq as far as management goes. I saved my money, paid off my house and my two vehicles and love my job. In 6 months I will have 25 years with KBR. I was with KBR before I went to Iraq and still with KBR.

      • Comment by Steve Lofquist:

        How are you with KBR when 4 months ago you were with Dyncorp? Thinking your firetruck was a transformer? Having other people do your work for you?

        • Comment by Optimus Prime:

          I never worked in Afghanistan and have never worked for DynCorp.

          • Comment by Steve Lofquist:

            So there is another Optimus Prime out there. Not a driver at Spin B? I emailed you at your Dyncorp e-mail addy and you chewed my butt. Stop lieing

            • Comment by Optimus Prime:

              Not me….there is a genteman who, for reasons I cannot imagine, legally changed his name to Optimus Prime and worked for LOGCAP III in Iraq for a while. I may use it as a moniker here, but I can assure you that I have never worked for Dyn Corp. I am currently working in Mississippi for KBR and have been since 2011 after demobing Iraq.

      • Comment by old salty:

        Twenty five years and you just recently paid off your home, hmmm? You should have been a Brown and Rooter and should have their 401K plan. So I doubt the 25 years part. Just another sub contractor! With Fluor if one quits and returns with-in 2 years they never lose their seniority and other benefits. I doubt B7R or KBR does that, as a matter of fact I know this!

      • Comment by old salty:

        Twenty five years and you just recently paid off your home, hmmm? You should have been a Brown and Rooter and should have their 401K plan. So I doubt the 25 years part. Just another sub contractor! With Fluor if one quits and returns with-in 2 years they never lose their seniority and other benefits. I doubt B&R or KBR does that, as a matter of fact I know this!

        • Comment by Optimus Prime:

          I never owned a house till 2007. I movered around the Southeast with KBR many years chasing construction and maintenance projects till I went to Project RIO, MERO and then to LOGCAP and finally back CONUS in June 2009. I have never been a subcontractor and during the last 24 years I only went to BE&K for 2 months when KBR had no work in 1993. Yes, I am emrolled in the 401K and I was also OAS when I was overseas and not SEII. Doubt me or not, I dont care because I know the truth

          • Comment by oldymer:

            Project Rio provides suitable employment and training opportunities for ex-offenders and promotes their employment potential by increasing public awareness. Is this the rio you were on, lol? Or this one?

            Rep. Waxman released the first analysis of Halliburton’s RIO 2 contract to restore Iraq’s southern oil fields. The examination of previously undisclosed correspondence, evaluations, and audits reveals that government officials and investigators have harshly criticized Halliburton’s performance under RIO 2. The documents disclose an “overwhelmingly negative” performance, including:
            • Intentional Overcharging: Halliburton repeatedly overcharged the taxpayer, apparently intentionally. In one case, “[c]ost estimates had hidden rate factors to increase cost of project without informing the Government.” In another instance, Halliburton “tried to inflate cost estimate by $26M.” In a third example, Halliburton claimed costs for laying concrete pads and footings that the Iraqi Oil Ministry had “already put in place.”
            • Exorbitant Costs: Halliburton was “accruing exorbitant indirect costs at a rapid rate.” Government officials concluded that Halliburton’s “lack of cost containment and funds management is the single biggest detriment to this program.” They found a “lack of cost control … in Houston, Kuwait, and Iraq.” In a partial review of the RIO 2 contract, DCAA auditors challenged $45 million in costs as unreasonable or unsupported.
            • Inadequate Cost Reporting: Halliburton “universally failed to provide adequate cost information,” had “profound systemic problems,” provided “substandard” cost reports that did “not meet minimum standards,” and submitted reports that had been “vetted of any information that would allow tracking of details.” Halliburton produced “unacceptable unchecked cost reports.”
            • Schedule Delays: Halliburton’s work under RIO 2 was continually plagued by delays. Halliburton had a “50% late completion” rate for RIO 2 projects. Evaluations noted “untimely work” and “schedule slippage.”
            • Refusal to Cooperate: Evaluations described Halliburton as “obstructive” with oversight officials. Despite the billions in taxpayer funds Halliburton has been paid, the company’s “leadership demonstrated minimal cooperative attitude resolving problems.” What is “movered”? A KBR slang word? Shows high intellect.

            • Comment by Optimus Prime:

              No dillweed it shows I made a keystroke error and did not spellcheck myself. One “late” prokect was task order 11. The company that built the nitrogen compressor for that task order held the equipment hostage because they were a sub of a sub and did not get paid by the 1st tier sub. Thats why that one was late….I aint saying that it was all hunky dory, but overall, except when Steve Shepherd was there as the PM, KBR had garnered good reviews by all the ACOs in charge of the contract.

              • Comment by Optimus Prime:

                I forgot to spellcheck again…my need to rush made me not check myself…..oh yeah……GFY. I lost some good friends on that project. Ian Duffield 4/29/2004. GSW to the chest and head. A construction translator an Iraqi, Sammy Saleem, GSW to the kneecaps and the chest and head.

                • Comment by old salty:

                  You surely look at KBY through myopic vision! You say they have been good to you. What about the US taxpayer? They ripped off the taxpayer. They had a cost plus contract. Regardless if they did a good job or not they made money. They did not follow manufacturers instructions on properly handling paints, glues, chemicals for example. Much of this went bad with the heat while being stored in connexes! They just re-ordered and made a profit. Wrong parts were ordered or wrong equipment because of Bosnians in charge. Then re-ordered again. You just looked the other way! I hope that when someone breaks into your house that people will look the other way and say they saw nothing when in fact they did!

                  • Comment by Optimus Prime:

                    They break into my house, the Rotwieller will eat them. Really nothing to worry about there.

                    • Comment by Steve Lofquist:

                      WOW you got something right!!!!!!!! In 2005 kBR was awarded 365 Million to refurbish all the old POW camps from WW2 for FEMA. Now KBR hasa project overview where they are manning the camps/ It is easy to look up and apply for these positions. They are hireing 100,000 people to work in the FEMA death camps. So if your Pro-KBR the KBR security wont be breaking in your house and dragfging you waway to die

  5. Comment by Steve Lofquist:

    KBR SUCKS and all loyalist support every lame thing KBR has done.

  6. Comment by Steve Lofquist:

    You know it is an easy thing to lie of greatly exagerate any fact on an open blog like this. Some people like me just tell it how it is and let the chips fall where they may. I recived some disturbing E-mails from Fluor security (X-KBR security) when I had the gutts to announce the Jim Lucksinger owning a large persentage of Fluor’s (old KBR) contract hotel. To Fluors credit once this was aired in an open forum the company terminated that hotel contract. So heres the deal….if you want to lie and support a lame ass company like KBR go and do it elsewhere
    KBR sucks

  7. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    I dont lie. I do agree with you on one thing…most of the KBR security guys were some corrupt and egotistical bastards, especially the red shirt wearing BTC security nazis. And yes, Brown and Root, USA Inc. hire date, January 1989.(1989 Name when I hired in), Brown and Root Inc, (1993 Name change), Kellogg Brown and root (1998 Name change), OAS (Rio 2004-2007, MERO, 2007 – 2009, LOGCAP 2009- 2011,)and now BE&K (owned by KBR) has fed me over many moons. Like you said…open forum. I will always be loyal to KBr. They have taken care of me and i damn sure will take care of them, even though I do understand…ultimately I am just a number to them.

  8. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    Im bored with this back and forth….nothing else really to stir up here and get the juices flowing. Come on Mrs Sparky….lets have some new stuff so I can rant and rave and spew my sometimes just plain ole say something to piss people off. I love this column and screwing with people just for the sake of arguments and to hear people bitch and gripe. Roll out Autobots.

  9. Comment by Mark:

    Well KBR F’d us all. Now there going to use those WW2 FEMA Camps and put those hollow points beween our eyes!!! WHat a waste of taxpayer dollars. I worked for them for 5 years in Iraq and yeah they basically took care of us so they can really take care of us in a few years. But they will with the USG off there supporters then off us other slaves!!!! To cut down the world population to 500,000,000 million people kind of a World Depopulation. For there evil sick Satanic minds.

  10. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    Genocide….sounds kinda cool.

  11. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    I have heard they even built gas chambers at the FEMA camps. They can accomodate up to 1000 sniviling whiners at a time. They produce a daily lottery within the management ranks and the winner gets to drop the cyanide pills into the chamber. Woo Hoo…..hey have also set up a firing range that gives some a chance. It is a big pit, 500 Yds x 500 Yds with some cover for the folks to hide. There are 2 sniper nests on each side for a total of 8 with each having a Barret 50 Cal. If a person hides and evades for an hour they are given freedom from opression and then get to blog about thier experience here on this website. The snipers are elite management types whos identies are hidden to protect thier families.

    Damn that was fun writing this….! HOOOAAAAH!

  12. Comment by Steve Lofquist:

    That sounds like something Megatron would say. KBR sucks. They are the slavers of the NWO.

  13. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    NWO – man you have watched too much wrestling. I do have to say that back in the day, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan and Big Poppa Pump were pretty impressive as a wrestling group of guys. Big bastards. Anyways, I will welcome the death camps….time to clear the chaff and weaklings. Trim the worlds population would be a good thing or else we will run out of resources…and have to go to other planets to rape and pillage…..sounds like another job to make some dineros. KBR delivers.

  14. Comment by Fumigator:

    Prime – You sound like you just like to talk smack and stir things up. I kinda like that….keep things from gettin serious. Sometimes there are some serious issues that need addressing, but sometimes things get carried too far on this website. I do like the wrestling comments…..can you smell what Im cookin?

  15. Comment by Optimus Prime:

    With a name like Fumigator you must have been vector control. Talk about death camps….you guys marched the little critters into the military vet and whammo….not to mention the kinetic kills that the military performed. You and your group may be entitled to be part of the snipers at the FEMA death camps…you would probably be VIPs.

    • Comment by Fumigator:

      Yep-vector control, both before, during and after Iraq. Killed em dead. The funnest thing was when you catch a cat, put the cat in the truck and then all the ladies ask “Your not going to kill the cat are you?” then you get to speak the truth…”No maam I am not going to kill this cat. I am going to take it to the military vet for them to look at and take custody of.” then when you take off in the truck, the cats starts screaming and making laps in the cage.

      • Comment by Optimus Prime:

        Yes sir….I know a vector controller tha worked for me in Iraq….great guy…deathly afraid of snakes, he would eliminate them with extreme predijuce. I still think you guys should have used Avitrol to kill the pidgeons.

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