Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Archive for the ‘ACE’ Category

$85 million awarded to 12 Oregon soldiers; KBR guilty of negligence, not fraud

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 2, 2012

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

A Portland jury found defense contractor KBR Inc. was negligent, but did not commit fraud against a dozen Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who sued the company for its conduct in Iraq nine years ago. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak announced the decision about 3:35 p.m. the U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.

“It’s a little bit of justice,” said Guard veteran Jason Arnold, moments after the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Arnold was one of four of the soldier-plaintiffs in the courtroom was the verdict was read.

The verdict should send an important message to those who rely on military troops, he said.

“We’re not disposable,” said another soldier, Aaron St. Clair. “People are not going to make money from our blood.”

KBR’s lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, said the company will appeal.

“We will appeal the jury’s incorrect verdict,” he said. “We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before the trial.”

Harrison said the soldiers’ lawyers produced a medical expert, Dr. Arch Carson, who offered “unsupported, untested medical opinions” that each soldier had suffered invisible, cellular-level injuries as a result of their exposure to hexavalent chromium.

The verdict means the jury did not hear clear and convincing evidence that KBR intended to deceive the soldiers in the way it operated at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq. But they did find that the company failed to meet its obligations in managing the work at the plant.

Friday’s verdict closes the first phase of a web of litigation between National Guard and British troops against KBR Inc., the defense contractor they accuse of knowingly exposing them in 2003 to a carcinogen at Qarmat Ali. KBR has denied the accusations.

In Oregon another set of Oregon soldiers are waiting in the wings for their day in court. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak and the attorneys agreed earlier to hold an initial trial with the first 12 soldiers, in order to keep the proceedings from becoming too unwieldy. A second trial, featuring all or some of the remaining 21 plaintiffs, could begin in federal court in Portland this winter.

Another lawsuit brought by Indiana soldiers against KBR is on hold in federal court in Texas, while an appeals court considers a jurisdictional issue.

The cases stem from the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers hired KBR Inc. to run a massive program called Restore Iraqi Oil. The program involved dozens of sites throughout Iraq — sites that neither the Army nor KBR had visited before the invasion. The project was intended to quickly restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, partly to fund the war. The Pentagon remembered the way Saddam Hussein had lit the fields on fire during the first Gulf War, and feared a repeat in 2003.

Qarmat Ali was a compound where water was pumped underground to drive oil to the surface elsewhere. For decades, Iraqis had treated the water with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. (Sodium dichromate is banned in the United States.)

Iraq’s Southern Oil Co. took delivery of sodium dichromate, an orange-yellow crystalline powder, in bags that were stored on site. Soldiers and others testified that the material was loose and drifting around the site, and had contaminated areas even outside the chemical injection building where it was added to the water.

How contaminated was it? Accounts differ. Even one of the plaintiffs in this case said he didn’t notice any soil discoloration. One of the British soldiers whose testimony was prerecorded said it was everywhere. Another Oregon soldier said it settled heavily on the clothing of the soldiers, who unwittingly carried it back to their camps over the border in Kuwait.

Much of KBR’s defense in the first Oregon trial focused on just how unlikely it was that any soldier — who visited the plant at durations from one day to 21 days — could have been exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium dichromate. But one of the most gripping portions of the testimony was when Oregon veteran Larry Roberta described eating a chicken patty that had been coated with the orange crystals, which he said immediately burned in his esophagus, causing him to vomit.

Roberta now is confined to a wheelchair and takes oxygen from a tank in his backpack. He had a history of gastrointestinal issues, but attributes much of his poor health to his time at Qarmat Ali.

Harrison, KBR’s lawyer, said the company “believes in the judicial process and respects the efforts and time of the jurors,” but believes the process that brought the case to conclusion Friday shouldn’t have been allowed to come so far.

“KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances,” he said in a brief, prepared statement. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”

Soldier-plaintiff Arnold said the message of the verdict is unmistakable. He said service members are being exploited “to this day.”

Now, he said, “the voice will be out. There will be a lot more scrutiny.”

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Toxic Exposures, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, due to lack of Diagnoses and Early Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 21, 2012

“But we may be able to learn that early treatment of the initial acute [brain] injury may avoid this cascade from brain injury to CTE.”

As a civilian contractor you will be denied early treatment by the insurance company.  The liability for this further injury is with the Defense Base Act Insurance Company, CNA leading the way.  

David Woods The Huffington Post  September 20, 2012

WASHINGTON — Almost a quarter million American troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury are at risk of developing a degenerative disease that causes bursts of anger and depression and can lead to memory loss, difficulty walking and speaking, paranoia and suicide, according to military researchers.

At present, medical officials cannot diagnose or prevent the disease, called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and there is no known treatment for it, said Army Col. Dallas Hack, director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

But researchers are hot on the trail of new procedures to detect and diagnose the disease, and there is hope that early detection of brain injury among troops exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan could prevent them from falling victim to CTE.

“We don’t fully understand the incidence of CTE with the occurrence of traumatic brain injury,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Randall McCafferty, chief of neurosurgery at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. “But we may be able to learn that early treatment of the initial acute [brain] injury may avoid this cascade from brain injury to CTE.”

Please read the entire post here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Dropping the DBA Ball, KBR, Misjudgements, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tierney and Cummings Seek Administration Help on Legislation to Save Taxpayers Billions on Insuring Federal Contractors Overseas

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 18, 2012

“IT”S TIME TO FIX THIS PROGRAM”

Washington, DC (Sept. 11, 2012)— September 17, 2012

Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting support for, and input on, H.R. 5891, The Defense Base Act Insurance Improvement Act of 2012.

“This is a common-sense bill that would save the American taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Tierney. “Numerous government audits have concluded that we are paying too much for workers’ compensation insurance for overseas government contractors, and that these workers aren’t getting what they deserve. It’s time to fix this program.”

The legislation would transition the existing Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance program to a government self-insurance program. According to a 2009 Pentagon study, this change could save as much as $250 million a year. The study found: “In the long run, the self-insurance alternative may have the greatest potential for minimizing DBA insurance costs, and it has several administrative and compliance advantages as well.”

“We are sponsoring this legislation because several audits of the current DBA program have documented enormous unnecessary costs incurred by taxpayers,” Cummings and Tierney wrote.

The existing system has been a boondoggle for private insurance companies, which have reaped enormous profits under the program. According to an Oversight Committee investigation, insurance companies providing DBA insurance in Iraq and Afghanistan have made enormous underwriting profits that are significantly higher than those of traditional workers’ compensation insurers.

The letter from Tierney and Cummings requests support for the legislation and notes that “OMB may be evaluating similar options.”

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, Political Watch, War Hazards Act, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn, Baby !, Burn !

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 4, 2012

Remember when rioters in Watts, Calif., began shouting “Burn, Baby! BURN!” in the turmoil of 1965? I’m sure they didn’t have the following future in mind.

That would be the various lawsuits against KBR for operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we should all be paying attention to this and not just for the human toll it has taken on soldiers and contractors. It also says something disturbing about the ability of the federal government to exercise proper control over its private contractors.

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 4, 2012

An article, “Military Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan: Considerations and Obstacles for Emerging Litigation” by Kate Donovan Kurera, in the Fall 2010 issue of the Pace Environmental Law Review provides the necessary insight.

For those who haven’t been paying attention the last four years the background goes thusly:

Burn pits have been relied on heavily as a waste disposal method at military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of United States military presence in these countries in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Little attention was paid to the pits in Iraq and Afghanistan until Joshua Eller, a computer technician deployed in Iraq, filed suit in 2008 against KBR for negligently exposing thousands of soldiers, former KBR employees, and civilians to unsafe conditions due to “faulty waste disposal systems.” Eller and a group of more than two hundred plaintiffs returning from their tours of duty, attribute chronic illnesses, disease, and even death to exposure to thick black and green toxic burn pit smoke that descended into their living quarters and interfered with military operations.

The plaintiffs assert that they witnessed batteries, plastics, biohazard materials, solvents, asbestos, chemical and medical wastes, items doused with diesel fuel, and even human remains being dumped into open burn pits. Defense Department officials say this waste stream contained items now prohibited pursuant to revised guidelines. Plaintiffs contend that KBR breached these contracts by negligently operating burn pits.

As of August 2010 there were an estimated two hundred and fifty one burns pits operating in Afghanistan and twenty two in Iraq. The most attention has focused on the burn pit operating at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which was suspected of burning two hundred and forty tons of waste a day at peak operation

While the health impact of the pits is what the media focuses on, Kurera sees even more important legal issues: She writes:  Please read the entire article here

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Burn Pits, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Suicides and Mental Trauma of Family Members

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 22, 2012

Civilian Contractors Families have no family support system, no family counseling, plus often the added stress of no medical care and/or disability payments for years on end

Is it a wonder that most DBA Casualty Families are destroyed?

“…we are still discovering, still revealing, fissures and cracks in the family support system.”

Global Research  August 22, 2012

Seven months ago, in December, 2011, Brian Arredondo, age 24, hanged himself in a shed in his mother’s backyard. Brian was the brother of US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. For seven years Brian had had difficulties dealing with the death of his brother.

Brian, like so many military brothers, sisters, spouses, children and parents, fell into the depths of depression following the death of his brother.

These difficulties in coping with his brother’s death played out in Brian in his depression, dropping out of school, using alcohol and drugs, being in and out of drug rehab facilities, in continuing incidents with police for disorderly conduct and finally in suicide.

Please read the entire article here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Delay, Deny, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Officer Down: Police, PTSD and Suicide

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 13, 2012

Left untreated, the effects of PTSD on law enforcement can be terrible. In 2012 so far, more police have died by their own hand than by gunfire.

Workers Comp Insider  August 13, 2012

Thanks to Workers Comp Insider for this timely and important article

Last month, there was a story about a South Carolina sheriff who was denied workers comp benefits for metal distress that he suffered after fatally shooting a suspect. In Brandon Bentley v. Spartanburg County, and S.C. Association of Counties SIF, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a lower court denial saying that “…the use of deadly force is an expected and standard part of being a sheriff and is “not an unusual or extraordinary employment condition” that might qualify for workers’ compensation under the state’s restricted coverage for purely mental injuries. In citing statistics, the Sheriff had unsuccessfully tried to demonstrate that such a shooting was indeed an extraordinary event in Spartanburg County. “

The Court noted that it made its decision according to the law as it is written but “… the court did say the state law related to mental injuries should be updated. If South Carolina lawmakers revised state law, it would join a handful of others, wrote the court. Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Oregon already do not require that the conditions of employment be unusual and extraordinary in order for someone to collect compensation.” (Source: Court brings new focus on mental health of law enforcement.)

Hopefully, his community or his police force sees the wisdom of extending some counseling to this officer, despite the denial of full benefits. Re-examining this issue makes good sense. While risks may well be part of the job, people are not automatons that can shut out the emotional residue of terrible events, regardless of training. PTSD is very real, and we must get better at dealing with it. This story was brought to mind again after watching the hard-working police Chief of Aurora Colorado reporting on the gruesome task that his staff faced in responding to the tragedy. In one of his daily updates, his voice broke when he spoke of the stress and toll this took on first responders.

Left untreated, the effects of PTSD on law enforcement can be terrible. In 2012 so far, more police have died by their own hand than by gunfire. According to Badge of Life, a police suicide prevention program, there have been 73 police suicides this year vs. 19 officers killed by gunfire. Badge of Life is conducting A Study of Police Suicides. The first full study of police suicides in all 50 states was published in 2009 in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health. At that time, the suicide rate for police officers was 17/100,000, compared to the rate for the general public of 11/100,000 and 20/100,000 for the Army.

Badge of Life points us to a documentary that is in progress on the topic, Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance. It’s being co-produced by the wife of a retired state trooper suffering with PTSD, exploring the darker side of law enforcement as it tells the stories of police officers and their families who are now suffering the mental anguish of the careers they chose, which has led some to suicide. Click the above link or the image below to see a powerful excerpt from the documentary. You can get more information on the Code 9 Facebook page.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mesothelioma, Toxic Exposures, Veterans and Civilian Contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 9, 2012

Mesothelioma and Veterans,  Civilian Contractors

Guest Post By Douglas Karr    August 9, 2012

Military members are exposed to plenty of risks that the average person would never have to deal with. In addition to the traditional dangers faced by military personnel, they are also at a higher risk for exposure to harmful substances. This is why military veterans need to be conscious of their risk for developing mesothelioma. This dangerous and rare cancer is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Most people never come into contact with asbestos. Veterans have more exposure, especially when they go abroad. A veteran needs to keep an eye out for symptoms in order to catch the problem early.

Exposure Through Overseas Deployment
Veterans are at much higher risk of mesothelioma when they are sent overseas. This is especially true in the age of urban warfare. Asbestos can most often be found in older buildings. Though most American buildings have been purged of the substance, this is not the case with many older buildings in places like Iraq. In urban warfare, these older buildings are often destroyed in firefights and air attacks. When that happens, the asbestos can make its way into the air, causing damage for any person who is forced to breathe it in.

The big danger for veterans in these areas is that they often do not know that they’ve been exposed. If you are simply walking through the streets of Iraq, you have no way of knowing what things you are breathing in. This can produce a significant risk. Those individuals who have served their country in Iraq should keep their eye out for the earliest signs of the disease. Though it is rare and most people will not develop mesothelioma, it is worth considering. Even short periods of exposure can be harmful in many instances.

The Military Functions That Bring About Asbestos Exposure
Not all military personnel are at the same level of risk. As veterans can attest, the military employs many different kinds of professionals. Not every person is out fighting on the front lines. Some people are directed with destroying buildings, while others are involved in construction. In the past, people have done milling or mining. These are jobs and functions that bring about much more risk. A report from the Department of Veterans Affairs confirms this heightened level of risk. That report indicates that any individual who has been involved in these special functions should be on the lookout for difficulties.

Understanding What Mesothelioma is All About
A veteran who is concerned about exposure should understand what to look for. It is a debilitating form of cancer that can move quickly. At its core, the cancer works on the chest and respiratory system. It can cause pain in that area and it can cause shortness of breath. People who notice intense amounts of pain or any blood in their mucus should be wary. It is important to catch this cancer at its earliest stages because it has a tendency to take hold in a hurry.

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Army Wants PTSD Clinicians to Stop Screening for Fakers: Chances are they are probably ailing

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 3, 2012

While even the military realizes the dangers of delaying and denying PTSD Diagnoses and Treatment

The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and their Overly Zealous Defense continue to brutally delay and deny diagnoses and treatment of PTSD to injured war zone contractors, most having served their country in the military.

In fact they are still allowed to force PTSD patients to undergo psychological  interrogation by the infamous Dr John Dorland Griffith who has been discredited over and over again, and falsely accused injured war zone contractors of malingering.  Many PTSD claims were denied based on his paid in cash testimony.

In case after case treatable PTSD becomes a chronic lifelong condition, destroying lives, shredding families.

Ultimately costing taxpayers and our society as a whole much more in the long run but provide more profits for the insurer and ever more fees for attorneys on both side of this boondoggle.

The Department of Labor presented policy five years requiring PTSD Claims to be expedited but the policy was never implemented.

Wired’s Danger Room

In a big reversal, the Army has issued a stern new set of guidelines to doctors tasked with diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returning soldiers. Stop spending so much time trying to spot patients who are faking symptoms, the new guidelines instruct. Chances are, they’re actually ailing.

The 17-page document has yet to be made public but was described in some detail by the Seattle Times. In it, the Army Surgeon General’s Office specifically points out — and discredits — a handful of screening tests for PTSD that are widely used by military clinicians to diagnose a condition estimated to afflict at least 200,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

The Army Surgeon General finds great fault with a dense personality test popular with clinicians that ostensibly weeds out “malingerers,” as PTSD fakers are known.

But the results of what’s known as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test are flawed, according to the report. PTSD sufferers often exhibit anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks and depression — all of which, some doctors believe, can be discounted under the test. The test devotes a large swath of questions to catching apparent exaggerations of symptom severity, seemingly inconsistent answers, or reported symptoms that don’t mesh with the typical signs associated with an illness.

“The report rejects the view that a patient’s response to hundreds of written test questions can determine if a soldier is faking symptoms,” the Seattle Times summarized. Where PTSD is concerned, that’s especially true. The condition is accompanied by symptoms that can differ markedly between patients: Some are hyperactive, others are lethargic; some exhibit frenetic rage while others are simply sullen and depressed.

“And,” the Times continued, “[the report] declares that poor test results ‘does not equate to malingering.’”

Those tests were the standard of care at Madigan Army Medical Center — which is a big deal. Located in Tacoma, Washington, Madigan isn’t just one of the military’s largest medical installations. It’s home to a forensic psychiatry team tasked with deciding whether soldiers diagnosed with PTSD were sick enough to qualify for medical retirement. In March, the Army launched an investigation of the Madigan team after Madigan’s screening procedures allegedly reversed 300 of the PTSD diagnoses among soldiers being evaluated.

The reversals resulted in some soldiers being diagnosed with “personality disorders” and others left with no diagnosis at all. Madigan allegedly used the tests to save money by limiting the number of patients who’d qualify for retirement. “

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Defense Medical Examinations, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide, Veterans, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Attention ALJ’s, Department of Labor, Defense Base Act Insurance Companies: It’s Official, The Iraq War was Dangerous for Everybody

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2012

Texas District Court Rules Iraq War Not Life Threatening

Eyesslinck VS Ronco Consulting:  Injustice Prevails

Many Civilian Contractors were sent to Post War Iraq in 2003 with little consideration for their safety even after it became clear that the Mission had not been Accomplished.  

Due to the Defense Base Acts Exclusive Remedy Contract Companies and those they take orders from never had to be concerned with Threat Mitigation, no cost to them when an employee is killed or injured.  Taxpayer picks up the tab, Contract Company puts another warm body in place.

When is our Government going to put it’s people before Profit

Lessons for Consideration from SIGIR Special Report #2

SIGIR identified two lessons for consideration.

1.  Reconstruction or stabilization operations conducted in combat zones present  potentially lethal threats to all participants, including military, contractors, U.S.  government civilians, third-country nationals, and host country citizens.        Planning for  such operations must anticipate this threat.

Reconstruction or stabilization operations are sometimes described as “soft,” “non-kinetic,” or “non-lethal” missions, but when they occur in a combat zone, these characterizations are a misnomer.   The human losses suffered in Iraq (and outlined in this report) underscore the point that when such operations are conducted in combat zones, they are dangerous for everyone involved, military and civilian, U.S. and non-U.S. alike Given the broad risks inherent in such operations, leaders and planners should consider threat mitigation when deciding to conduct reconstruction or stabilization operations missions in combat zones.

2.  Poor casualty data management during reconstruction or stabilization operations  obscures the actual human cost of such operations.       Reliably integrated databases must be developed and implemented prior to commencing future reconstruction or  stabilization operations.

One measure of the cost of reconstruction or stabilization operations is the number of casualties suffered.  Without accurate records, there cannot be a reasonably complete evaluation of the human cost of reconstruction or stabilization efforts.  U.S. agencies involved in such missions should develop systems that effectively track all casualty data related to stabilization or reconstruction operations.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, Political Watch, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iraq war veteran, 25, shoots himself after battle with PTSD

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2012

Once every half hour in America, a veteran tries to commit suicide according to VA figures for 2011

We’ll never know how many Civilian Contractor Suicides , how many could be prevented

The Daily Mail  July 27, 2012

On a warm summer afternoon, Michael Ecker, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, called out to his father from a leafy spot in their backyard.

Then, as the two stood steps apart, Michael saluted, raised a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

‘His eyes rolled back,’ his father, Matt, said softly as he recounted the 2009 suicide. ‘There was just nothing I could do.’

Weeks before he killed himself at the family’s home in Champion, Ohio, Michael received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs accusing him of ‘over-reporting’ the extent of his psychiatric problems.  Read more here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Dropping the DBA Ball, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Average Weekly Wage & Residual Earning Capacity in DBA Cases: Beware Adjuster Sleight of Hand

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 26, 2012

Guest Post by Doug Grauel, ESQ  July 26. 2012

DBA insurance companies scurry a lot.

They can’t seem to take a claim, look at it, make a reasoned statement of how they see it, and have a conversation about it. Instead they see a claim coming, so they scurry. The scurrying gets so fast it’s like watching a magician running a shell game. One of the favorite deceptions has to do with Average Weekly Wage (on the front end) or Residual Earning Capacity (sometimes called Residual Functional Capacity) on the back end.

Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is generally thought of as the rate of pay that an injured worker was making at the time that he or she was hurt. Section 10 of the Longshore Act tells you how to calculate AWW–sort of.  For most overseas war zone contractors,  AWW is the amount that you would have earned working at your regular, time-of-injury job for one year, divided by 52.  This means that you include overtime, hazard pay, and all the rest to your base pay, figure out what a “typical” year would have looked like, and divide by 52. Roughly. If you are unlucky enough to get hurt before you have worked a year, then there is issue of possible annual or completion bonuses. Workers who are hurt in the third year of overseas work, even if each year was a one-year stint, have stronger claims for higher wages than workers who get hurt six weeks after they arrive on base. It’s just how the world works.

Carriers love this simple trick:

Overseas contractors often earn enough that their DBA/Longshore compensation rate is the maximum. So if you’re an adjuster, do you bother to figure out the real AWW?   No way: You just say, “This year’s max is $1295.20. The comp rate is 2/3 AWW, which is the same as .666xAWW. So .666xAWW=$1295.20.  Therefore AWW=$1295.20/.666= $1944.74.” But $1944.74×52=$101,126.48.  Plenty of overseas contractors are making more than that if you include hazard pay, overtime, and so on.  So that AWW that the adjuster cooked up is too low. Why should you care, if you get the max rate anyway?

Here’s why: After you get a little medical treatment, suddenly the adjuster sends you a “Labor Market Survey,” claiming that you could be working at $12.00 an hour for 35 hours a week. That’s about $420 per week, or $21,840 per year. So now your comp benefits go down, because the carrier says your comp rate should be 2/3 of the difference between AWW at the time of injury ($1944.74) and your residual earning capacity ($420). $1944.74-$420=$1524.74. $1524.74x.666=$1015.48.

Presto: You lose $1295.20-$1015.48=$279.72 per week, or $14,545.44 per year.

All because the adjuster didn’t want to figure out what your real AWW should be.

Douglas Grauel, Esq. |

dgrauel@grauellaw.com | (603) 369-5010 | 15 N. Main St. Concord NH 03301 | http://www.grauellaw.com

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Defense Base Act War Hazards Act: Overly Zealous Representation in Defending Against a DBA Claim

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 27, 2012

employer/carrier’s inadequate or overly zealous representation in defending against a DBA claim may be grounds for denying all or some portion of a request for WHCA reimbursement.

So Mr Rayburn how many War Hazards reimbursements has the DFEC denied

in part or whole over the following

Overly Zealous DBA Insurance Company Defense Tactics ?

The use of repeated Defense Medical Examinations with Doctors Over Paid to produce a report detrimental to the claimant, to run them through the drill

—————————————————

The claims process being drug out for as long as nine years with no end in sight while the defense racks up ever more legal fees, the insco keeps charging administrative fees, not to mention the claimants attorneys fee’s, while the claimant goes without  medical and/or indemnity

—————————————————

Unnecessary mileage, airfare, lodging, expenses paid out due to due coercing claimants to travel as far as five states away to attend Defense Medical Examinations, Mediations, Depositions, Hearings

—————————————————

The use of private investigators, some even criminals themselves, to stalk and intimidate injured contractors and their families far beyond simply confirming a claimants status

—————————————————

The use of  Third Party Administrators to handle claims processes that could easily be done without the added expense and fees.

—————————————————

Unnecessary fines and interest due to non payment or late payment of  indemnity

—————————————————-

The financial ruination of injured contractors and their families caused by the overly zealous controverting of legitimate claims

—————————————————-

The Temporary Disabilities which are now Permanent due to their failure to provide medical care under the guise of investigating clearly legitimate claims.  Now the US taxpayer is responsible for disabilities far beyond what they ever had to be.

—————————————————

The PTSD Suicides caused by the Insurance Companies, their claims examiners, and their attorneys

—————————————————

The break up of families caused the constant pressure and abusive tactics used by the Employer/Carrier

—————————————————

The forced acceptance of inadequate settlements or stipulated agreements due to starving the claimant out for years on end and/or threatening the claimant and family that if they do not accept the inadequate settlement they will make them miserable for the rest of their lives (see The Weaponization of the Defense Medical Examination)

—————————————————

Unfairly denying the claimants attorneys fees in order to discourage good attorneys from handling these claims

————————————————–

FECA BULLETIN NO. 12-01

XI. Miscellaneous

1. DFEC requires, before acceptance of any WHCA reimbursement claim, that the employer/carrier has made only reasonable and prudent efforts in presenting all meritorious defenses against a DBA claim without regard to whether the case is eligible for WHCA reimbursement. An employer/carrier’s inadequate or overly zealous representation in defending against a DBA claim may be grounds for denying all or some portion of a request for WHCA reimbursement.

CECILY A. RAYBURN
Director, Division of Planning, Policy and Standards

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, DBA Attorneys Fees, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, KBR, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide, Veterans, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Defense Base Act: What is a Settlement ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 21, 2012

A settlement is when the insurance company pays you a lump sum amount to close out your indemnity, your medical, or both.

It is only a settlement when you are paid a lump sum amount of money and you are done with the insurance company.

Nothing else is a settlement.

An agreement based on stipulations to pay you XX amount of money every month is not a settlement, your claim is not then settled.

And an agreement to provide your medical for your agreed upon injuries does not mean your medical is settled.  In fact it means you will continue to litigate

But these agreements do allow the Insurance Company to seek reimbursement under the War Hazards Act as though they were settled

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Liberty Mutual, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Defense of Freedom Medal Held Hostage by The Defense Base Act

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 31, 2012

WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?

The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones. 

One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal?   The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.

WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?

The company you work for is responsible for requesting  that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.

As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer.   Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.

Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim.  Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.

It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.

When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.

Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.

These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged.   ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.

KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.

Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.

For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-

The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.

We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.

If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Injured Contractors, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, War Hazards Act, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Defense Base Act: The Weaponization of the Defense Medical Examination

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 15, 2012

The Defense Base Act Insurance Company is entitled to have Defense Base Act Claimants see a physician that they choose to provide them with a second opinion regards the injuries that you have filed a claim for.  These examinations are in no way Independent Medical Examinations as the Insurance Company and their Attorneys deceptively refer to them as.

These Insurance Company Second Opinions, or Defense Medical Examinations, come at a heavy price to the US Taxpayer.  The Insurance Companies pay much higher amounts to hire doctors that will give them a report unfavorable to your claim and also be willingly to back up these statements in Depositions or straight to a Judges face at hearing.  You are entitled to reimbursement for the expenses you incur attending these.  The DME can be a very expensive undertaking.

Very few DBA Claimants exercise their rights to have these doctors researched by a professional, not travel outside of their geographic area, take an advocate with them (preferably your attorney or a nurse), have the scope and purpose of the Examination clearly defined, or most importantly to video the examination

It must be you who pursues these protections because your DBA Attorney is not likely to suggest or pay for them despite your entitlement to them.  Your attorneys failure to assert your rights only enables the insurance companies and their bloodthirsty attorneys and claims adjusters.

You are required to “cooperate” not play dead.

One very prudent restriction on these DME’s used to be that the Insurance Company could not make you attend one more than every three years.  At some point that we cannot ascertain this restriction was removed. 

So  began the Weaponization of the DBA Defense Medical Examination.

Currently the DME is being utilized as a weapon to intimidate DBA Claimants to accept negligent settlements.

Even though you have an order in place you are told if you do not immediately attend a DME your payments will cease immediately.

Even though your claim is currently under the jurisdiction of an ALJ awaiting a decision you are told to fly across country for several days of DME’s.   Just prepping you for the settlement offer.

Your attorney presents to you a ridiculous offer for settlement along with the threat that if you do not accept it the Insurance Companies Attorney promises you DME’s every year and surveillance by their private dicks $$$ for the rest of your life.

We cannot always be certain who is manning the weapon.  As of late there is a barrage of Friendly Fire.

No doubt that the casualties are always the DBA Claimant and the US Taxpayer.

It has never been more true that After Injury the Battle Begins

Or more clear that this program is lacking oversight of any kind

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, DBA Attorneys Fees, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Defense Medical Examinations, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, Independent Medical Examinations, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 208 other followers

%d bloggers like this: