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Ryan J. Reilly – (Huffington Post) – Washington – January 24, 2013 – The Army official who signed a secret agreement that military contractor KBR claims should burden taxpayers with the bill for the company’s negligent poisoning of U.S. soldiers in Iraq resigned from the military in 2003 after a tenure marked by questions about his ties to Enron Corp.
Thomas E. White, named secretary of the Army in 2001, signed an indemnity agreement protecting KBR, the military’s largest contractor, from legal liability on March 19, 2003. KBR had asked for the agreement as part of its contract to rebuild Iraq oilfields destroyed in the U.S. invasion. White resigned a month later, on April 23, under fire for his previous role as a senior Enron executive and after clashing with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his advocacy for a multi-billion dollar artillery system.
Doyle said the agreement may mean a taxpayer “bailout” for KBR. “It’s basically saying that no matter if we’re guilty of — willful misconduct, poisoning soldiers — taxpayers have to pay to cover us as well as whatever we decide to pay on lawyers at whatever rates and all these fees,” Doyle said. “That’s a pretty good bailout.” ~Huffington Post
Greta McClain – January 9, 2013 -Portland – After being found guilty of negligence in the poisoning of at least a dozen US soldiers deployed in Iraq, KBR is insisting that US tax payers foot the bill for damages.
In November of 2012, an Oregon Federal Court awarded $85 million to twelve Oregon National Guard members who stated they were exposed to a known carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq in 2003. The National Guard soldiers were stationed at the facility to guard against attack from insurgents.
And in typical KBR fashion, the next step after the verdict was rendered was not one of accepting responsibility, finally, but instead continue blame avoidance and misdirection. KBR struck out against the trial judge for the temerity of even permitting a public trial of KBR’s actions, the jurors for not baldly accepting KBR’s version of the facts, and our firm and clients. Not once did the company ever own up to their mistakes. Without the slightest legitimate basis for impugning the trial court or the jurors, KBR instead demanded an exception from the court’s rules for juror protection, insisting on an unsupervised “interview” by its lawyers or trial consultant of each juror to find out why such a verdict was placed in the soldiers favor. The judge rejected this demand, finding that it was unsupported and unjustified. ~By Doyle Raizner
A Q&A with KBR’s vice president for litigation, Mark Lowes
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – January 5, 2013 – When a federal jury in November awarded $85 million to 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers and veterans who sued defense contractor KBR Inc. in court in Portland, it marked a first step in what is sure to prove a very long course toward legal resolution.
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – December 29, 2012 – Following unproductive talks on the day after Christmas, lawyers for defense contractor KBR Inc. and for a set of Oregon National Guard veterans filed dueling motions Friday in federal court in Portland.
KBR has asked Magistrate Judge Paul Papak to grant a new trial, almost two months after a Portland jury awarded 12 Oregon National Guard veterans about $85 million in damages. The company’s lawyers say that lawyers for the veterans committed “numerous and repeated violations” of Papak’s rulings, tainting the verdict and misleading the jury.
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 »