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David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – January 20, 2012 – Some things just seem to go together: day and night, bread and butter, Romeo and Juliet, Abbott and Costello, Crosby and Hope, Batman and Robin, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Cheech and Chong, Sonny and Cher, Beavis and Butthead and sharks and suckerfish (remora) for example. In light of that last pair, another symbiotic pair is private military and security contractors and lawyers.
When historians try to calculate the various benefits that the past decade of privatized contingency operations has brought, one hopes they won’t forget to include the huge number of billable hours that various law firms representing various plaintiffs and defendants have amassed. Firms like KBR, Blackwater and DynCorp alone have doubtlessly enabled scores of lawyers to pay for their children’s education all the way up through doctorates.
For example, earlier this month the security company once known as Blackwater, now Academi, agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by six victims or their families in the Sept. 16, 2007 shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, an incident that remains a lightning rod over the use of private contractors in war.
According to Charlotte, North Carolina law firm Lewis & Roberts, who represented the victims in this case, the lawsuit was the “last active civil suit stemming from the incident,” in which five Blackwater guards were accused in 14 deaths of civilians.
Also this month the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced that DynCorp International, a Falls Church, Va.-based private military contractor and aircraft maintenance company, will pay $155,000 and furnish other significant relief to settle a sex-based harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
(Bloomberg News) – Halliburton Co. (HAL), won’t face a jury on claims they sent unarmed civilian convoy drivers into an Iraqi battle zone in 2004, knowing the workers would be injured or killed, an appeals court ruled.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today ruled the drivers’ claims were blocked by the Defense Base Act, a U.S. law that shields military contractors from lawsuits. The drivers were attacked and injured because of their role in support operations for the U.S. Army, which is covered under that statute, the judges said.
“Coverage of an injury under the DBA precludes an employee from recovering from his employer,” even if the worker claims the company was “substantially certain” the injuries would occur, U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen said in a 30-page ruling by the panel.
By Margaret Cronin Fisk and Laurel Brubaker Calkins – Jan 10, 2012 10:17 AM PT
KBR Inc. (KBR) settled a lawsuit brought by an injured convoy driver who claimed the company sent civilians into a battle zone in Iraq in 2004 knowing they would be attacked and possibly killed, according to a court filing.
Reginald Cecil Lane, the driver, reached a “confidential settlement” with KBR and its former parent, Halliburton Co. (HAL), his lawyer, Tommy Fibich, said yesterday in court papers. Lane and the defendants asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, according to the filing.
“Lane was severely injured in the attack, and his wife died during the pendency of the case,” Fibich said today in a phone interview. He declined to comment further on the settlement, citing the confidentiality agreement.
KBR, a Houston-based government contractor, was also sued by the families of seven drivers who were killed in Iraq. The company is appealing a ruling by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller in Houston allowing the suits to go forward. The other claims haven’t been settled, Scott Allen, a lawyer for the families, said today in a phone interview.
Sharon Bolen, a KBR spokeswoman, didn’t immediately comment on the settlement with Lane, which was reached in late December, according to appeals court records. Beverly Stafford, a Halliburton spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a call or e-mail seeking comment on the settlement.
The drivers and their families claim KBR officials fraudulently recruited workers for safe jobs in Iraq and intentionally sent unarmed civilians into a recognized combat zone in April 2004. The military-supply contract gave company officials the right to refuse assignments deemed too dangerous for civilians, according to the complaints. Read the remainder of this entry »
Appeals court asked to toss suits in convoy deaths
(The Associated Press) – NEW ORLEANS – July 7, 2011 – A long-running suit over insurgent ambushes that killed civilian truck drivers in Iraq is back in a federal appeals court.
Halliburton and former subsidiary KBR Inc. are accused of knowingly sending supply convoys into a dangerous area where six KBR drivers were killed and several others wounded in April 2004.
A federal judge ruled in March 2005 that most the suits can go to trial, though he said it’s unclear whether the defense contractors sent convoys knowingly into harm’s way.
Halliburton and KBR asked a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out the ruling Thursday. The companies contend the claims are not subject to litigation and are covered instead by a federal workers’ compensation law.
The panel didn’t indicate when it would rule. (Click HERE for original article)
David Isenberg – July 3, 2010 – Let’s take a brief look at the world of rent a generals. Specifically, Lt. Gen. Sanchez. (USA-Ret.). Gen. Sanchez had a distinguished Army career and honorably served his country. He was the highest-ranking Hispanic in the United States Army when he retired on November 1, 2006.
Those who can remember past yesterday will recall that he served as the V Corps commander of coalition forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. While his time as commander was not without controversies ( hostile relations with Paul Bremer, torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, development of the Iraq insurgency) I assume he did the best he could.
For most retired officers that would have been enough. But evidently not for Gen. Sanchez. Evidently he felt the need to continue the fight; only now against U.S. civilians and injured veterans.
In February it was reported that the U.S. Army was trying to stop him from continuing to be an expert for KBR in a lawsuit against it over civilian truck driver deaths and injuries.
Sanchez is being paid $650 an hour and has reviewed documents and written a report that support’s KBR’s contention it should not be held legally responsible for the deaths of six civilian truck drivers and the injuries of others in a 2004 ambush in Iraq. Read the remainder of this entry »