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.


 
 

 
Raytheon photograph

Raytheon completes key Air, Missile Defense Radar reviews

Raytheon photograph Partially-populated, full-sized Air and Missile Defense Radar array. Raytheon has completed two critical program reviews for the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, the U.S. Navy’s next generation integ...
 
 
Insitu photograph

Insitu demonstrates long endurance capabilities of Integrator unmanned aircraft

Insitu photograph Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aircraft recovers via SkyHook; the aircraft recently completed a 24-hour endurance flight. Insitu announced July 22 the successful 24-hour flight of its Integrator unmanned a...
 
 

U.S. Navy selects Northrop Grumman for ship self-defense system

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2. The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised. SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin selected for U.S. Air Force’s satellite hosted payload initiative

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin has a long history of developing and integrating hosted payloads onto spacecraft. Since 2000, the company has delivered 84 payloads on 16 different types of satellites from multiple ma...
 
 
boeing-france

Boeing delivers upgraded French AWACS aircraft

Boeing on July 17 delivered on schedule the first of four upgraded French Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. The upgraded aircraft will increase the fleet’s surveillance, communications and battle management ca...
 
 

Lockheed Martin demonstrates JAGM dual-mode guidance section in second flight test

Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile dual-mode guidance section during a second internally funded flight test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During the test, the rail-mounted JAGM flew 6.2 kilometers and initially acquired the target using its precision strike, semi-active laser. The dual-mode guidance section then engaged its millimeter wave radar, and...
 




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>