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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.

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Iraq war contractor KBR ordered to pay $85 million to Oregon soldiers

KBR verdict: $85 million awarded to 12 Oregon soldiers; KBR guilty of negligence, not fraud ~Mike Francis, The Oregonian

(The Associated Press) - Portland OR – November 2, 2012 -  A jury on Friday ordered an American military contractor to pay $85 million after finding it guilty of negligence for illnesses suffered by a dozen Oregon soldiers who guarded an oilfield water plant during the Iraq war.

After a three-week trial, the jury deliberated for just two days before reaching a decision against the contractor, Kellogg Brown and Root. The company was ordered to pay $6.25 million to each of the soldiers in punitive damages and $850,000 in noneconomic damages.

The suit was the first concerning soldiers’ exposure to a toxin at a water plant in southern Iraq. The soldiers said they suffer from respiratory ailments after their exposure to sodium dichromate, and they fear that a carcinogen the toxin contains, hexavalent chromium, could cause cancer later in life.

Another suit from Oregon Guardsmen is on hold while the Portland trial plays out. There are also suits pending in Indiana and West Virginia.

KBR witnesses testified that the soldiers’ maladies were a result of the desert air and pre-existing conditions. Even if they were exposed to sodium dichromate, KBR witnesses argued, the soldiers weren’t around enough of it, for long enough, to cause serious health problems.

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Seeking solutions and other news

… Of course, military contracts, “makes jobs.” So do automobile wrecks, dope traffic, prostitution, abortions, frivolous lawsuits, arson, wars and, perish the thought, social programs. It just happens to be hard to appropriations for such activities if undifferentiated job creation is your objective. Military contracting is another matter; it is downright unpatriotic even to question it. ~ Dina Rasor, Truthout

United States Sues Jacintoport International for False Claims in Connection with the Delivery of Humanitarian Food Aid
(DoJ) – October 19, 2012 – The United States has filed a complaint against Jacintoport International LLC under the False Claims Act in connection with a warehousing and logistics contract for the storage and redelivery of humanitarian food aid, the Justice Department announced today. Jacintoport is a cargo handling and stevedoring firm headquartered in Houston.

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Nurturing a toxic culture and other news

…the toxic culture of the military allows “open and blatant sexual harassment to occur on a daily basis,” and retaliates against its opponents…

…While the military claims a zero-tolerance policy and touts systematic reforms regarding rape and sexual assault, “this rhetoric has failed to change the misogynistic culture of the Army and has not resulted in any meaningful reform or reduction in sexual assaults”… – Military Accused of Nursing Culture of Rape & Retaliation

Halliburton senior vice-president and six others nabbed in prostitution sting
Clifford Pugh – (Culture Map) – October 12, 2012 –  A Halliburton senior vice president and six others were arrested Thursday in an undercover prostitution sting in north Harris County. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office vice unit focused on suspects soliciting sex online and set up the sting operation from a motel located off I-45 and FM 1960.

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Halliburton Says It Has Started Internal Investigation On Iraq Work

David Wethe – (Bloomberg) – July 27, 2012 – Halliburton Co.,  the world’s second- largest oilfield services provider, has begun internal investigations into its operations in Angola and Iraq.

The probes are looking at payments made to third-party agents related to customs matters in Angola and Iraq, as well as visa issues in Iraq, Houston-based Halliburton said today in a federal filing.

Halliburton alerted U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange officials during the second quarter that it had begun the inquiry after meeting with them about another internal investigation the company has under way about possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.

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