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.


 
 

 

Headlines October 22, 2014

News: Northrop challenges 3DELRR contract award - Northrop Grumman has formally issued a protest against the US Air Force’s decision to award its next-generation ground based radar to competitor Raytheon.   Business: Defense firms prefer GOP, but spread campaign cash between political parties - For every campaign contribution from a major arms manufacturer to a Republican candidate...
 
 

News Briefs October 22, 2014

Military converges on scene of Kansas jet crash Military personnel are investigating at the site in southeast Kansas where an Oklahoma Air National Guard fighter jet crashed after a midair collision with another one during a training exercise. The F-16 crashed Oct. 20 in a pasture about three miles northeast of Moline, an Elk County...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Upgrades ‘new normal’ for armor in uncertain budget environment

Courtesy photograph The current Paladin is severely under-powered and overweight so its speed of cross-country mobility is pretty restricted. The Paladin Integrated Management program is designed to address a number of these we...
 

 

ISR: A critical capability for 21st century warfare

The progressive adaptations and breakthroughs made in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance arena have changed the way wars are fought, and the way commanders think about the battlespace. “Whether we have airmen exploiting full motion video data or serving downrange in the (Central Command) area of responsibility, these individuals make up an enterprise of 30,000...
 
 

Lockheed Martin teams with Roketsan of Turkey on new standoff missile for F-35

Roketsan and Lockheed Martin signed a teaming agreement Oct. 22 for collaboration on the SOM-J, a new generation air-to-surface Standoff Cruise Missile for the F-35 Lightning II. The SOM system is an autonomous, long-range, low-observable, all-weather, precision air-to-surface cruise missile. The SOM-J variant is tailored for internal carriage on the F-35 aircraft. The companies will...
 
 

Army Operating Concept expands definition of combined arms

The Army Operating Concept, published Oct. 7, expands the idea of joint combined-arms operations to include intergovernmental and special operations capabilities, said Gen. Herbert R. McMaster Jr. The new concept includes prevention and shaping operations at the strategic level across domains that include maritime, air, space and cyberspace, he said. It’s a “shift in emphasis,”...
 




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>