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Ryan we haven’t forgotten you

SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted in his shower in Baghdad and died January 2, 2008

The war in Iraq is all but over and our troops have pulled out.  It’s been four years today since 24 year old  SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted and died while showering in his living quarters at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad. Ryan’s courageous mother, Cheryl Harris continues to fight, not only for the rights of her son, but for the safety of soldiers everywhere.

Cheryl filed suit against KBR for the death of her son. Although this suit drags on in the US courts at an agonizingly slow pace.  KBR has pulled out all the stops in attempts to have this case dismissed in US courts, but much to KBR’s dismay, it hasn’t.

I will write every year I’m able to remind people of Ryan’s death, the product of corporate greed and corruption, and heroes like Cheryl Harris. We need more heroes like Cheryl!

You can read more on Cheryl’s case against KBR at Cheryl Harris vs KBR.

Below are links to past posts I’ve written and published on the anniversary of Ryan’s death.

SSG Ryan Maseth – You must be very proud! (2009)
Does anyone know what day this is? (2010)
3rd anniversary of the electrocution death of SSG Ryan Maseth (2011)

Cheryl, I pray the next post I publish about Ryan is how you succeeded in holding KBR accountable for his senseless death!

Ms Sparky

U.S. Army protects KBR from willfull misconduct in Iraq

Indemnification clauses are nothing new in defense contracting. Many defense contractors  now have or have had in the past, contracts with the Pentagon containing indemnity provisions. These provisions potentially immunize the contractors from legal accountability for harm caused during the implementation of their contracts. Indemnification clauses are most commonly found in high risk contracts dealing with the manufacture and disposal of hazardous materials for the Pentagon. Most importantly these indemnification clauses are not necessarily “classified” by the Pentagon unlike the indemnification clause that was added to KBR’s no bid contract to Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) at Qarmat Ali in Southern Iraq in 2003.

In a deposition filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon in the case of the deadly hexavalent chromium exposure of  Oregon National Guardsman and others,  it was revealed that on March 18, 2003, the eve of the Iraq invasion, a KBR attorney secured a secret indemnification clause ensuring U.S. taxpayers, and not KBR, would pay for damages in the event of any death or injury which occurred during KBR’s implementation of the Restore Iraqi Oil no-bid contract in Southern Iraq, a contract worth over $2.5B.

The typical defense contractor indemnification provisions (pdf) for defense contracts, entered as Plaintiff’s exhibit #34 in the Oregon National Guard case against KBR states:

Section (e) – The Contractor shall not be reimbursed for liabilities (and expenses incidental to such liabilities)–

Section (e)(3) – That result from willful misconduct or lack of good faith on the part of any of the Contractor’s directors, officers, managers, superintendents, or other representatives who have supervision or direction of–

(i) All or substantially all of the Contractor’s business;

(ii) All or substantially all of the Contractor’s operations at any one plant or separate locations in which this contract is being performed; or

(iii) a separate and complete major industrial operation in connection with the performance of this contract.

KBR’s recently declassified indemnification provisions (pdf) for the $2.5B no-bid Restore Iraqi Oil contract in Southern Iraq are a stark contrast to the typical indemnification afforded to other defense contractors and states: Read the remainder of this entry »

Lawmakers Secure Provision in NDAA to Bring Transparency to War Contracting Process

Blumenauer, Wyden, Schrader, Merkley Secure Provision in NDAA to Bring Transparency to War Contracting Process

Thursday, 15 December 2011 17:57

Amendment A Legislative Response To Classified Immunity Deal For Contractor KBR That Exposed Oregon National Guardsmen To Toxic Chemicals In Iraq

WASHINGTON – Today, Congress sent a version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 to President Obama that included an amendment championed by Oregon Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley bringing greater transparency to the war contracting process. The amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to notify the Congressional defense committees when the Pentagon enters into indemnification agreements with contractors connected to U.S. military efforts abroad and explain why such a provision is necessary.

The legislative victory culminates a process that began during the last Congress to reform how the Pentagon does business with defense contractors. The push was sparked by the stories of 34 members of the Oregon National Guard who are suing KBR after exposure to the lethal carcinogen hexavalant chromium during their 2003 tour in Iraq while protecting the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Facility.  The Qarmat Ali site, contracted to KBR for reconstruction, left Oregon troops with chronic medical problems.

The lawsuit revealed the existence of a classified indemnification clause in the KBR contract that could absolve the company from liability and shift the cost of unlimited damages, health costs and court fees onto the Department of Defense and, by extension, U.S. taxpayers. That contract was fully declassified this week as the Iraq war came to an official close. Read the remainder of this entry »

KBR still fighting Oregon National Guard Troops over Qarmat Ali exposures

KBR, Oregon soldiers back in federal court over medical claims Friday

By Mike Francis, The Oregonian

Lawyers for military contractor KBR Inc. will ask a federal judge in Portland Friday to rule against a group of 34 Oregon Guard soldiers who say the contractor knowingly exposed them to a carcinogenic compound in Iraq in 2003.

Attorneys of the Houston firm of Susman Godfrey will argue that the soldiers’ lawyers have failed to prove that the troops’ medical symptoms were caused by exposure to the compound.

The soldiers sued KBR after they provided security for the contractors working to repair a water treatment facility at Qarmat Ali in southern Iraq.

In Friday’s hearing, KBR’s lawyers will argue before Judge Paul Papak that the plaintiffs have failed to prove that their medical symptoms, which range from skin irritation to severe gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, were caused by exposure to sodium dichromate in 2003. They will also ask the judge to strike the testimony offered by a Texas doctor and professor who filed a “tardy” report on the soldiers’ symptoms. Read the remainder of this entry »

KBR accused of retaliating against whistleblower George Price

Glenna Herald | October 3, 2011

A Harris County resident is suing KBR, with an office in Memorial, over claims the company retaliated against him for reporting racial discrimination.

George Price filed a lawsuit on Sept. 23 in the Harris County District Court against KBR, Inc., with an office in Memorial, and Services Employees International, citing violations of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

Price says that in February 2009, he filed an internal complaint with his employer, KBR, detailing the racial slurs and racial comments he was forced to endure while working as a heavy truck driver for the Iraq Theater Transportation Mission.

Immediately after filing his complaint, Price alleges his supervisor retaliated against him, singling him out and scrutinizing his work. Within 12 days of the investigation, Price was placed on a corrective action and a path to termination, according to the brief.

The suit alleges KBR’s retaliatory acts forced him to leave his position in Iraq and return to his home in the States.

Price is seeking back pay and front pay, benefits, damages, attorney’s fees and court costs. He is being represented in the case by Houston attorney John Lloyd.

Harris County District Court Case No. 2011-57510. (click HERE for original article)