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KBR: Tax payers should foot the bill for our negligence

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.

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“This is not our first rodeo…” KBR’s view on Qarmat Ali etc…

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.

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Oregon National Guard soldiers vs. KBR – Trial Wrap-up

From left are Charles Seamon, Aaron St. Clair, Jason Arnold, attorney David Sugerman, and Rocky Bixby in front of the federal court, shortly after the KBR verdict was announced Friday afternoon. (Photo Motoya Nakamura / The Oregonian)

Some reflections on the KBR trial by a juror
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – November 4 , 2012 – I reached out to most of the jurors who awarded damages Friday to the Oregon National Guard soldiers and, so far, one has agreed to discuss the jury’s deliberations, on the condition that he/she not be identified. Here are a few bullet points from our conversation.

1. A consensus emerged fairly quickly that KBR was negligent in the way it operated at Qarmat Aliin 2003. KBR “displayed a level of incompetence you wouldn’t expect from a professional organization being paid well” to do its job, the juror said.

The jury was influenced by the fact that KBR eventually did shut down operations at the water treatment plant out of concerns over contamination by sodium dichromate, which contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. Yet KBR was present at the site beginning in March and operated there daily through the spring and summer. To think something changed that much at the site between March and August “defies logic,” the juror said. “There should have been enough red flags. They screwed up in not identifying it early.”  (Click HERE for article)

KBR trial: Some morning-after observations
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – November 3, 2012 – While the trial felt like a marathon that ended in a Friday-afternoon frenzy, the KBR case is far from over. Or, as one of the soldiers’ lawyers told his clients in the moments after the verdict was read, “Don’t start writing checks yet.”KBR’s lawyers will ask Judge Papak to throw out the verdict for multiple technical reasons, including what’s known as “the political question.” Failing that, they will appeal.

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Soldiers claim illness after guarding KBR in Iraq

Photo – ABC News

Nigel Duara – (Associated Press) – October 10, 2012 – Portland, Ore. - A war contractor 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’ attorney said in opening arguments Wednesday in a federal civil suit.

An attorney for the contractor, Kellogg, Brown and Root, fired back in his opening salvo of a trial expected to last weeks that the soldiers’ injuries weren’t a result of their exposure to the toxin, called sodium dichromate. Geoffrey L. Harrison argued that the company had no knowledge of the chemical’s presence at the plant and when they found it, they promptly and repeatedly warned the military of the danger.

A jury of six men and six women will decide whether the company is culpable for 12 Oregon National Guardsmen’s exposure to the toxin, a known carcinogen, and whether that exposure led to their ongoing respiratory illnesses. The soldiers will also try to show that the fear of future illnesses is causing them to suffer emotional distress.

The irony, said the soldiers’ attorney, Mike Doyle, “is that every single one of these men had a chemical hazard suit they would have put on instantly if they had known.”

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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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