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Lawyer: Military’s housing choice irrelevant

Brian Bowling – (TribLive News) – May 14, 2013 – A federal jury can determine whether a Defense  contractor is responsible for the electrocution death of a Shaler soldier  without second-guessing the military’s choice of where to house troops in Iraq,  a lawyer for the soldier’s parents argued Tuesday.

The jury doesn’t have to decide whether the Army made  the right choice in housing Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, in a building with a  substandard electrical system to determine whether KBR Inc. of Houston had the  discretion to fix the water pump that electrocuted Maseth while he was taking a  shower, said William Stickman.

If the jury decides the Army tied KBR’s hands, “we  simply lose,” he told a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of  Appeals, which was hearing oral arguments in the Downtown federal courthouse.

Cheryl Harris of Cranberry and Douglas Maseth of  Allison Park want the appeals court to reinstate their lawsuit against KBR Inc.  for the Jan. 2, 2008, death of their son at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in  Iraq.

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KBR Dodges Lawsuit by Electrocuted Marine

KIM CALANTROPO – (Courthouse News) – RICHMOND, Va. – October 10, 2011 – A Marine who was electrocuted while trying to install a wiring box at the military base near Fallujah, Iraq, cannot pursue negligence claims against defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, the 4th Circuit ruled.

Peter Taylor had sought relief from the appellate court after a federal judge dismissed the claim in April 2010. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar had agreed with KBR that Taylor lacked subject-matter jurisdiction since the political question doctrine bars negligence claims. Doumar also found that the “combat activities” exemption of the Federal Tort Claims Act pre-empts the suit.

The 4th Circuit declined to revive Taylor’s claim, but it did vacate the trial court’s finding about the pre-emption issue since the lack of jurisdiction removes the judges need to consider this aspect of the case.

Taylor, a hospital corpsman for the Marines, had been stationed at a camp about 15 miles outside Fallujah at the time of the July 2007 accident. A generator malfunction had incapacitated the tank ramp that troops used to maintain Marine tanks, Humvees and other vehicles.

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