Business

November 2, 2012

Soldiers’ suit of Iraq War contractor goes to jury

Jurors will decide whether an Iraq War contractor is responsible for respiratory ailments and the fear of future illness that Oregon National Guard soldiers blame on a carcinogen present at a water plant they were tasked to defend.

The contractor says the substance was in concentrations so small it was harmless.

Attorneys for 12 Oregon National Guardsmen focused on the months of April, May and June 2003, alleging Kellogg, Brown and Root knew about the presence of sodium dichromate – which contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium – and took no action, laying the responsibility for informing the soldiers on the U.S. Army.

“If you start with a big lie, you’ve got to keep it going,” said the soldier’s attorney, Mike Doyle, in closing arguments Oct. 31.

The jury received the case at 4 p.m., Oct. 31.

Doyle asked for a minimum of $1 million in damages for each soldier.

KBR attorney Geoffrey Harrison said the company disclosed the risk to the soldiers. “If KBR wanted to keep it secret, they would have,” Harrison said. “If our motive were evil-minded, evidence should show that KBR concealed the risk.”

KBR tried to warn the U.S. Army about the dangers of sodium dichromate, Harrison said, but didn’t go to the soldiers themselves because that wasn’t the proper channel of communication.

“If they had full and open communication with everybody, why is their own engineer writing to Houston saying we need to tell our people they’re around something dangerous,” Doyle said. “It’s all talk, talk, talk.”

The suit dates to prewar Iraq, when the U.S. Army feared then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein would react to an invasion by setting his own oil fields ablaze, as he had done in Kuwait after the Gulf War.

Seeking to head off Hussein, in late 2002 the army contracted KBR and tasked them with assessing and repairing Iraqi oilfield installations. One of the most central – and critical to a continued supply of oil from the Gulf – was called Qarmat Ali.

Qarmat Ali operated as a water treatment plant, injecting heavier, treated water into the ground to force oil to rise through wells to the surface. One of the chemicals Iraqi workers had been using was sodium dichromate, a substance long restricted in the U.S. over environmental and health concerns, especially concerning hexavalent chromium.

The soldiers returned to the U.S. suffering from myriad respiratory problems, migraines and lung issues. They sued KBR in June 2009. The Oregon soldiers were joined by Guardsmen from Indiana and West Virginia, some of whom are also involved in suits against KBR.

Harrison asked jurors to drop four of the 12 soldiers from the suit, saying they acknowledged in various forms their knowledge of the risk from sodium dichromate long before they filed suit and waited too long to sue.

A jury of six men and six women will decide whether the company is culpable for the soldiers’ exposure to hexavalent chromium, 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.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
boeing-ethiopia

Boeing, Ethiopian Airlines announce order for 20 737 MAX 8s

  Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines Sept. 20 announced an order for 20 737 MAX 8s. The order, previously unidentified on the Boeing Orders & Deliveries website, is worth more than $2.1 billion at list prices and also inclu...
 
 
airbus-collaboration

Airbus Group, Aerion announce technology collaboration

Airbus Group and Aerion Corporation have agreed to collaborate on technologies associated with the future of high-performance flight. To further their mutual objectives, both companies will exchange knowledge and capabilities i...
 
 

Boeing to upgrade specialized ICBM guidance system test Equipment

Boeing will continue to ensure the readiness of the nationís Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system with the development of a new Guidance Data Acquisition System. Under a $4.9 million contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force, Boeing will update and replace the aging GDAS, a key piece of equipment that tests the guidance system...
 

 

Boeing to open first cyber analytics center outside U.S.

Boeing will open its first Cyber Analytics Center outside the U.S. in Singapore, to bring advanced cybersecurity capabilities and services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The center will help train and equip cybersecurity professionals, perform advanced analytics and serve as Boeing’s regional cybersecurity center of excellence. Boeing will hire and train cybersecurity professionals...
 
 

Lockheed Martin receives additional EW contract to protect Navy’s fleet

The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin an additional $147 million contract to upgrade the fleet’s electronic warfare defenses against evolving threats, such as anti-ship missiles. Under this low-rate initial production contract for Block 2 of the Navy’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program, Lockheed Martin will provide 14 systems to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32(V)2 system on all...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>