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Qarmat Ali Lawsuits Archive

KBR November Litigation Round-Up

Posted November 26, 2012 By Ms Sparky

NEIL GORDON – (POGO) – November 26, 2012 – November has been a very bad month for defense contractor KBR.

KBR is the federal government’s primary logistics support contractor in Iraq, receiving tens of billions of dollars in business from the Department of Defense over the last decade, much of that under the U.S. Army’s monopolistic Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III contract.

In early November, an Oregon federal jury returned an $85.2 million verdict against KBR for exposing military personnel to toxic chemicals at an Iraqi water treatment facility in 2003. The jury found that KBR had “acted with reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to the health, safety, and welfare” of the plaintiffs. A case raising similar claims is pending in KBR’s hometown of Houston, Texas, and will soon go to trial.

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The US Army resists KBR’s attempt to “gobble” up more taxpayer dollars as KBR cries “fowl” and sues the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) after they refuse to indemnify the “turkey’s” [KBR’s] legal fees from exposure of Oregon National Guard troops and others to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali, Iraq. If I were the Army, I would be saying “Stick a fork in ‘em [KBR], they’re DONE!” (OK….that’s all the Thanksgiving cliche’s for now.)

On November 2, 2012, an Oregon federal jury ruled that KBR must pay $85 million to 12 Oregon National Guard members who allegedly suffered emotional distress after the company exposed them to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali.

Each guardsman was awarded $6.25 million in punitive damages after the jury determined that KBR “acted with reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others,” as well as $850,000 in non-economic damages. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial Wrap-up

Posted November 5, 2012 By Ms Sparky

From left are Charles Seamon, Aaron St. Clair, Jason Arnold, attorney David Sugerman, and Rocky Bixby in front of the federal court, shortly after the KBR verdict was announced Friday afternoon. (Photo Motoya Nakamura / The Oregonian)

Some reflections on the KBR trial by a juror
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – November 4 , 2012 – I reached out to most of the jurors who awarded damages Friday to the Oregon National Guard soldiers and, so far, one has agreed to discuss the jury’s deliberations, on the condition that he/she not be identified. Here are a few bullet points from our conversation.

1. A consensus emerged fairly quickly that KBR was negligent in the way it operated at Qarmat Aliin 2003. KBR “displayed a level of incompetence you wouldn’t expect from a professional organization being paid well” to do its job, the juror said.

The jury was influenced by the fact that KBR eventually did shut down operations at the water treatment plant out of concerns over contamination by sodium dichromate, which contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. Yet KBR was present at the site beginning in March and operated there daily through the spring and summer. To think something changed that much at the site between March and August “defies logic,” the juror said. “There should have been enough red flags. They screwed up in not identifying it early.”  (Click HERE for article)

KBR trial: Some morning-after observations
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – November 3, 2012 – While the trial felt like a marathon that ended in a Friday-afternoon frenzy, the KBR case is far from over. Or, as one of the soldiers’ lawyers told his clients in the moments after the verdict was read, “Don’t start writing checks yet.”KBR’s lawyers will ask Judge Papak to throw out the verdict for multiple technical reasons, including what’s known as “the political question.” Failing that, they will appeal.

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Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial News

Posted October 31, 2012 By Ms Sparky

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.

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Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial News

Posted October 29, 2012 By Ms Sparky

KBR’s expert witness Barbara D. Beck, Ph.D., DABT taking a “billable” nap. Beck is testifying (or should I say napping) on behalf of KBR in the National Guard chemical exposure case at Qarmat Ali in Iraq. Beck also testified in opposition to efforts to ban lead in kids toys.

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.

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