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Oregon National Guard victims demand that AOI not support KBR

Larry Roberta (seated in wheelchair) and other supporters rally at AOI offices in Salem.

Larry Roberta (seated in wheelchair) and other Qarmat Ali victims and supporters rally at AOI offices in Salem.

Associated Oregon Industries draws fire from injured vets

AOI to file brief on suit against military contractor
The Statesman Journal-by Queenie Wong-Aug 2, 2013

Connected to an oxygen tube, Oregon Army National Guard veteran Larry Roberta quietly moved back and forth in a wheelchair Friday holding a picket sign that read “Shame on you, Associated Oregon Industries.”

Roberta was among a dozen National Guard soldiers who were exposed to toxic chemicals while guarding a water plant during the Iraq war. The exposure to sodium dichromate, Roberta said, left him bed ridden for days with migraines and reduced his lung capacity.

In November, a federal jury in Portland found the military contracting company Kellogg Brown and Root Inc. guilty of negligence for exposing those soldiers to the chemicals.

The contractor was ordered to pay $85 million. Each soldier was awarded $6.25 million in punitive damages and $850,000 in noneconomic damages. Read the remainder of this entry »

Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial News

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

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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Courtroom Battle Brewing for Guardsmen, KBR

April Baer – (OPB News) – October 8, 2012 – This week, the case pitting a small group of Oregon Guardsmen against one of the giants of military contracting gets underway in a Portland courtroom.

Soldiers assigned to patrol the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq are suing the contractor KBR. They claim they weren’t told of contaminants at the plant, including hexavalent chromium, that put their health at risk. Some claim their health has already suffered.

Have the soldiers developed health problems?

A: Yes. One Oregon soldier stationed at Qarmat Ali, Sgt. Nicholas Thomas, died of complications from leukemia at age 21. One of the Oregon plaintiffs, Larry Roberta, has been weakened by a variety of debilitating respiratory and digestive problems. Others have complained of symptoms including nosebleeds, rashes, lung problems and immune system disorders. And an Indiana National Guard commander stationed at Qarmat Ali, Lt. Col. James Gentry, died of lung cancer.   (Setting up the case of Bixby, et al. vs. KBR – The Oregonian)

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KBR, Guard lawyers argue about whether to go to trial; new Army report surfaces

Indiana soldier Kyle Wyatt – A photo of Quarmat Ali, the Iraqi water treatment plant, displayed by lawyers in court Wednesday – Photo The Oregonian

Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – July 12, 2012 – A potentially important new document has emerged in the case of Oregon and Indiana Guard soldiers suing military contractor KBR Inc. over their exposure to a known carcinogen — but the public can’t read it.

Lawyers for KBR disclosed Thursday morning in federal court in Portland that the Army had delivered on Wednesday a new investigative report about events at Qarmat Ali, the site of a water treatment plant where soldiers were assigned in 2003 to provide protection to KBR contractors. But they said the report was marked for official use, so would be filed under seal.

Nevertheless, a KBR lawyer cited the report in arguing that it proves that the Army Corps of Engineers knew from at least May 2003 that Qarmat Ali was contaminated with sodium dichromate, an anti-rust compound that contains highly toxic hexavalent chromium.

Lawyers for KBR and a dozen Oregon Guard soldiers were back in court Thursday to argue about whether the soldiers can proceed to a scheduled jury trial in October. While the lawyers have been jockeying for months over expert opinions, the makeup of the plaintiff pool, the amount of legal fees and other issues, KBR hopes to avoid having the case reach a jury. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak suggested he will rule soon on the competing arguments.

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