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.


 
 

 

Lockheed Martin, StemRad studying first-responder radiation shield for potential deep-space application

StemRad, Ltd. and Lockheed Martin have initiated a joint research and development effort to determine if StemRad’s radiation shielding technology ñ originally designed for first-responders ñ could help to keep astronauts safe on deep-space exploration missions. This collaboration is part of Lockheed Martin’s ongoing effort to establish international partnerships for human explorat...
 
 

General Dynamics to continue modernizing submarine tactical weapons systems

General Dynamics has received a $20 million contract modification from the U.S. Navy to continue modernizing the AN/BYG-1 Weapons Control System Technology Insertion and Advanced Processing Build software for U. S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy submarines. The AN/BYG-1 software analyzes and tracks submarine and surface-ship contact information, providing tactical, situational awareness for sub...
 
 

Boeing, Vietnam Airlines sign exclusive pilot training agreement

Boeing and Vietnam Airlines announced a five-year exclusive pilot-training agreement to support the Hanoi-based airline’s 787 Dreamliners. Under the agreement, Boeing Flight Services, a business unit of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, will provide flight training for the airline’s new 787 Dreamliner fleet at Boeing’s Singapore training campus. Nearly 90 Vietnam Airlines p...
 

 
boeing-launch

Boeing WGS-7 satellite to provide military with 17 percent more bandwidth

Boeing’s seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite is now in orbit and will soon provide the U.S. and allied militaries with 17 percent more secure communications bandwidth than its predecessors thanks to a payload upgrade. ...
 
 

Boeing, Japanese partners formally sign agreement on 777X

Boeing and key Japanese partners July 23 signed a formal agreement for significant work on Boeing’s new 777X airplane. The agreement finalizes last year’s announcement by Boeing, Japan Aircraft Industries and Japan Aircraft Development Corporation of a Memorandum of Agreement to provide approximately 21 percent of the major airplane structure components for the 777X. The...
 
 

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

The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $154 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 (SEWIP), Lockheed Martin will provide additional systems to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32 systems on U.S....
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>