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Posts Tagged ‘Exclusive Remedy’

Iraq convoy was sent out despite threat

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 9, 2012

Unarmored trucks carrying needed supplies were ambushed, leaving six drivers dead. Records illuminate the fateful decision.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?”

“Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

T Christian Miller The LA Times  September 3, 2007

Senior managers for defense contractor KBR overruled calls to halt supply operations in Iraq in the spring of 2004, ordering unarmored trucks into an active combat zone where six civilian drivers died in an ambush, according to newly available documents.

Company e-mails and other internal communications reveal that before KBR dispatched the convoy, a chorus of security advisors predicted an increase in roadside bombings and attacks on Iraq’s highways. They recommended suspension of convoys.

“[I] think we will get people injured or killed tomorrow,” warned KBR regional security chief George Seagle, citing “tons of intel.” But in an e-mail sent a day before the convoy was dispatched, he also acknowledged: “Big politics and contract issues involved.”

KBR was under intense pressure from the military to deliver on its multibillion-dollar contract to transport food, fuel and other vital supplies to U.S. soldiers. At Baghdad’s airport, a shortage of jet fuel threatened to ground some units.

After consulting with military commanders, KBR’s top managers decided to keep the convoys rolling. “If the [Army] pushes, then we push, too,” wrote an aide to Craig Peterson, KBR’s top official in Iraq.

The decision prompted a raging internal debate that is detailed in private KBR documents, some under court seal, that were reviewed by The Times.

One KBR management official threatened to resign when superiors ordered truckers to continue driving. “I cannot consciously sit back and allow unarmed civilians to get picked apart,” wrote Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation.

Six American truck drivers and two U.S. soldiers were killed when the convoy rumbled into a five-mile gauntlet of weapons fire on April 9, 2004, making an emergency delivery of jet fuel to the airport. One soldier and a seventh trucker remain missing.

Recriminations began the same day.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?” demanded one security advisor in an e-mail. “Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Contractors Kidnapped, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Defense, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Will the Exclusive Remedy continue to condone murder or will G4S/ArmorGroup finally be held responsible for the murders of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare?????

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 30, 2012

WARNINGS ABOUT KILLER OF SCOT WENT UNHEEDED  October 1, 2012

ArmorGroup put the gun in his hand knowing that he was troubled

CONTROVERSIAL security firm G4S ignored warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq who went on to murder two of his colleagues, it has been claimed.

Danny Fitzsimons was sentenced to at least 20 years in an Iraqi prison last year for killing Scot Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in Baghdad in 2009.The parents of Paul McGuigan, 37, have now called for G4S ArmorGroup to face criminal charges for failing to heed the warnings and sending Fitzsimons to Iraq.Now a new BBC Scotland documentary has revealed that G4S was warned not to employ Fitzsimons, who was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and had been fired by a previous security contractor for punching a client.It emerged that a whistleblower sent two e-mails to the London-based company, which operates as Armorgroup in Iraq, expressing concerns that Fitzsimons’ unstable behaviour made him unsuitable to be handling weapons in a war zone.
The first e-mail, revealed in tonight’s BBC Scotland Investigates: Britain’s Private War programme, reads: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public. I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”And in a second e-mail, sent as 32-year-old Fitzsimons was about to start work in Baghdad, the whistleblower adds:“Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.
“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”Paul McGuigan’s mother, Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen, in Peebleshire, said: “Fitzsimons fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup.“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”The parents of Fitzsimons were also shocked to hear about the existence of the e-mails.Mother Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”The news comes just months after the UK Government was forced to call in 1,200 troops to police the Olympic Games venues after G4S failed to provide enough staff.

The firm recently won a £20million contract to manage the electronic tagging of Scottish offenders.

A spokesman for G4S said: “Although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.

“Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation, but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.”

Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, G4S, Hope that I die, Iraq, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Ronco Consulting, State Department, UK Contractor killed, Wackenut | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Consequences of Pursuit of Profit: All Protected by DBA’s Exclusive Remedy at the expense of the US taxpayer

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 7, 2012

That dispute led to the under-equipment and under-preparation of the security team on which the four Blackwater employees died.   Their deaths led the military to launch an invasion of Fallujah.

So here it is: A contract dispute led to a major development in a major war of the United States – and that is Paul’s point.

David Isenberg at PMC Observer

Reduced to its essentials every argument and debate about the use of private military and security contractors comes down to two words; outsourcing and privatization. The argument is simply whether they are good and bad.
Personally I think that, like most other things, the answer is maybe. Hey, if you want absolutes take up physics.

But lately, partly I suppose, in response to the predictable quadrennial Republican party blather about the glories of the free market – cue the inevitable segue into why America needs a purported businessman like Mitt Romney to “fix America” – my repressed academic side has been pondering the pitfalls of privatizing the battlefield.

Before going any further let me acknowledge the contribution and sacrifice of PMSC personnel. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much depended on such an unacknowledged few.

That said, let’s turn to one of the iconic contractor moments of the U.S.involvement in Iraq; the killing of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004.

Last year law professor Arthur J. Jacobson of Yeshiva University publishedan article in the  Cardozo Law Review.   The occasion was a symposium in honor of Paul R. Verkuil, who is on the Cardozolaw school faculty. Verkuil is author of the 2007 book Outsourcing Sovereignty: How Privatization of Government Functions Threatens Democracy And What We Can Do About It.

In his article, Outsourcing Incompetence: An Essay in Honor of Paul Verkuil Jacobson provides some detail regarding that tragic day that is not appreciated by the public.  I realize the following quote is long but it is necessary to appreciate the true impact of what happened.

The four Blackwater employees who were dismembered and mutilated in Fallujah, where they ended up while guarding a convoy, is a grim reminder of how the military must react to contractor actions. The Marines had to secure that city after that gruesome event, which was not in their plans beforehand.

Paul’s conclusion about the Fallujah incident is ineluctable. The Department of Defense, it appears, outsourced to Blackwater a task that it regarded as amenable to outsourcing, rather than as an inherent government function. Were the Department of Defense to offer a justification of this decision, they would argue that providing security to a supply convoy is akin to an ordinary civilian security operation – like night watchmen at a construction site or armed guards accompanying an armored car – and is thus distinguishable from combat, which, as most today would probably agree, is
an inherent government function.  But the reality of a theater in combat does not permit so fine a distinction to be drawn.  The Blackwater employees had necessarily to engage in combat, and their defeat drew the Marines into a combat operation they had neither desired nor planned. Contracting with Blackwater to provide security for convoys thus wound up diverting the United States military from operations they had in fact planned, and calling into question the competence of a military that could so unwittingly be the cause of its own distraction.

Paul’s Blackwater story is bad enough. The real story is worse. I asked Erik Wilson, a captain in the United States Marine Corps and a first-year law student at Cardozo, to look into the Fallujah incident a little more closely. Here is what he found.

The U.S. Army did not hire Blackwater directly. The prime contract, part of the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), was between the Army and Halliburton. It was a contract to supply Camp Ridgeway, an Army base near Fallujah.

Halliburton then subcontracted the supply contract to KBR, and KBR subcontracted it to ESS. It was ESS that hired Blackwater to provide security for the convoys to Camp Ridgeway. Four subcontracts connect, or separate, Blackwater from the ultimate recipient of its services. That looks like an awfully long chain of subcontracts. But things were not so simple.

Let’s start with the top of the chain. It was actually KBR’s predecessor, Brown & Root, and not Halliburton, that had the first LOGCAP contract with the Army. This was back in the 1990s, at the beginning of the LOGCAP program. In 2002, Halliburton created KBR (merging two of its subsidiaries, Brown & Root and M.W. Kellogg), and replaced the former Brown & Root as the prime contractor. Halliburton was thus the prime contractor at the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003. The LOGCAP contract Halliburton signed at that point, known as LOGCAP III, was the second renegotiation of the initial LOGCAP contract between the Army and Brown & Root. Halliburton’s role under LOGCAP III was only to guarantee KBR’s services, and the Army and other federal auditing agencies dealt directly with KBR, not with Halliburton. Halliburton was involved in LOGCAP III only because it owned KBR. Thus, after Halliburton divested itself of KBR in 2007, KBR once again became the prime contractor in the LOGCAP IV contract, which is just now coming into
effect.

Now let us consider the bottom of the chain. ESS did not hire Blackwater directly. It hired Blackwater through a proxy company, Regency Hotel and Hospital Company of Kuwait. What happened was this: Regency and Blackwater had submitted a joint proposal to replace ESS’s existing private security contractor, Control Risks Group. Once Regency/Blackwater won the contract, they renegotiated it to make Regency ESS’s subcontractor and, in turn, make
Blackwater Regency’s subcontractor. Apparently Blackwater wanted this arrangement so it could get exclusive credit for the successful security operations.

The presence of Regency in the chain is important because a dispute erupted between Blackwater and Regency about the armoring of the vehicles to be used in protecting the convoys. According to Captain Wilson, Blackwater used its
subcontractor status to “blackmail” Regency, saying that Regency now had to provide weapons, armor, and other supplies, and that Blackwater would not supply them. The apparent aim of this strategy was to get Regency either to pay for Blackwater’s supplies or default on their contract, which Blackwater would try to take over at an increased profit once Regency was no longer in the way. Captain Wilson believes that Blackwater probably could not have gotten the security contract on its own and that it teamed with Regency for credibility, then tried to cut Regency out.

Partially as a result of this dispute between Regency and Blackwater over equipment funding, the Blackwater team was extremely underequipped and underprepared for the March 31, 2004, mission in which four Blackwater employees died.

I want to pause here in telling the story to make a comment. Outsourcing government tasks to a firm in the private economy subjects those tasks to the push and pull of the economy. I do not have the illusion, and neither does Paul, that elements of the bureaucracy are without their own motivations and distortions, but when you sign up with the private economy, you agree to participate in the private economy’s motivations and distortions. Let’s be blunt. There was a dispute between Regency and Blackwater over who would pay to armor the security for the convoys. That dispute led to the under-equipment and under-preparation of the security team on which the four Blackwater employees died. Their deaths led the military to launch an invasion of Fallujah. So here it is: A contract dispute led to a major development in a major war of the United States – and that is Paul’s point.

Please go to David’s blog and read the entire post

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Halliburton, KBR win appeal of Fisher vs Halliburton on Exclusive Remedy Clause of Defense Base Act

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 12, 2012

The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy “A License to Kill”

The Exclusive Remedy was intended to be trade off to keep injured contractors from having litigate with their employers when they are injured.  As it turns out the employers are off the hook and the injured contractors fight for years for medical care and lost wages from private insurance companies, AIG, CNA, ACE

AIG has fought the survivors and families of those killed like they were common criminals for the death, medical, and lost wages that were to be provided “forthwith”.

And don’t think something like couldn’t happen to you, your only one bomb or one sniper away.

Bloomberg  January 12, 2012

KBR Inc. (KBR) and its former corporate parent, Halliburton Co. (HAL), won’t face a jury on claims they sent unarmed civilian convoy drivers into an Iraqi battle zone in 2004, knowing the workers would be injured or killed, an appeals court ruled.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today ruled the drivers’ claims were blocked by the Defense Base Act, a U.S. law that shields military contractors from lawsuits. The drivers were attacked and injured because of their role in support operations for the U.S. Army, which is covered under that statute, the judges said.

“Coverage of an injury under the DBA precludes an employee from recovering from his employer,” even if the worker claims the company was “substantially certain” the injuries would occur, U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen said in a 30-page ruling by the panel.

KBR, a Houston-based government contractor, was sued in 2005 by the families of seven drivers killed while working inIraq for the largest U.S. military contractor. The company appealed a 2010 lower-court ruling that jurors could weigh the companies’ actions without second-guessing the actions of the Army.

Unarmed Civilians

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who presided over the case in Houston federal court, refused to dismiss Halliburton, which spun off KBR as a separate company in 2007. Miller had also ruled that the companies couldn’t name the military as a co-defendant in the lawsuits, so the Army wasn’t required to defend its actions.

The drivers and their families claimed KBR officials fraudulently recruited workers for safe jobs in Iraq and intentionally sent unarmed civilians into a recognized combat zone in April 2004. KBR’s military-supply contract gave company officials the right to refuse assignments deemed too dangerous for civilians, according to the complaints.

KBR and Halliburton argued that they weren’t liable because they couldn’t refuse Army orders to dispatch the fuel convoys under terms of their multibillion-dollar supply contract with the U.S. military. The convoys were attacked at a time when Iraqi insurgents were escalating the fight against U.S. troops that had taken over the country to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

The case is Fisher v. Halliburton, 10-20202, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

KBR Settles Lawsuit Brought by Driver Injured in Iraq Convoy

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 10, 2012

Bloomberg  January 10, 2012

KBR Inc. (KBR) settled a lawsuit brought by an injured convoy driver who claimed the company sent civilians into a battle zone in Iraq in 2004 knowing they would be attacked and possibly killed, according to a court filing.

Reginald Cecil Lane, the injured driver, reached a“confidential settlement” with KBR and its former parent,Halliburton Co. (HAL), his lawyer Tommy Fibich said in court papers yesterday. Lane and the defendants asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, according to the filing.

KBR, a Houston-based government contractor, was also sued by the families of seven drivers who were killed in Iraq. The company is appealing a ruling by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller in Houston allowing the suits to go forward. The other claims haven’t been settled, Scott Allen, a lawyer for the families, said today in a phone interview.

Sharon Bolen, a KBR spokeswoman, and Fibich didn’t immediately return calls or e-mails seeking comment on the settlement.

The case is Lane v. Halliburton, 06-CV-01971, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston)

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Injured Contractors, Iraq | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Families of dead Blackwater Contractors Settle Suit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 6, 2012

Bill Sizemore The Virginian Pilot  January 6, 2012

Seven years after it was filed, what could have been a landmark lawsuit over battlefield accountability in an era of privatized warfare has been quietly laid to rest.

As a result, the security company formerly known as Blackwater has avoided a public examination of the bloody event that catapulted the company to worldwide attention and changed the course of the Iraq war.

The lawsuit was filed in January 2005 by the families of four Blackwater guards killed in a convoy ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, in March 2004. In what became an iconic image of the war, the four were shot and dismembered, and two of the bodies were strung from a bridge while a crowd of Iraqis cheered and chanted.

Televised images of the gruesome scene were flashed worldwide, prompting a devastating retaliatory assault on the city by U.S. forces that fanned the flames of the Iraqi insurgency.

The security company, now known as Academi, reached a confidential settlement with the families last week.

Two sources who insisted on anonymity said the company agreed to a total payout of $635,000 – a mere fraction of the legal fees in the long-running case, let alone the $30 million in claims and counterclaims at stake.

The settlement is in keeping with an aggressive makeover effort by Academi’s current owners, who bought the company from founder Erik Prince a year ago and are doing their best to distance themselves from allegations of lawless behavior at Blackwater, from the streets of Baghdad to the executive suite in Moyock, N.C.

Beyond any financial considerations, the Fallujah victims’ families never got what they always said they wanted most: an opportunity to hold the company publicly accountable for their loved ones’ deaths.

The four men – Wesley Batalona, Scott Helvenston, Michael Teague and Jerry Zovko – were traveling in two Mitsubishi SUVs, escorting a convoy of flatbed trucks to pick up kitchen equipment from a U.S. military base.

Please read the entire article here

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Iraq, Misjudgements, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Danny Fitzsimons to be sentenced but for ArmorGroup it is business as usual

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 19, 2011

Danny Fitzsimons

In only a matter of hours , barring further delays,  Danny Fitzsimons will face sentencing for shooting and killing Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan in ArmorGroup’s living quarters in the Green Zone.  A possible death sentence

The first Contractor to be tried in the Iraqi Courts under Iraqi Jurisdiction.

Lucky for ArmorGroup.

Under Iraqi Jurisdiction there was no formal inquiry into who armed a man with several psychiatric diagnoses,  a criminal record,  pending weapons charges, known drug and alcohol problems, who was fired from two other security companies and was considered to be a problem among his peers.

Under US or UK law ArmorGroup would bear some responsibility for arming a man this whacked.  Maybe even be considered accessory to the murders.

Negligence of this nature occurs as a matter of rule with some Contract Companies.  Like Armorgroup did,  just under bid the contract so you can win it.   The solution then is to under staff, over work, refuse to provide the necessary equipment that was contracted  for, and put any warm body in place without vetting them to ensure that they are who and what they claim to be.

Darren Hoare

How many accidents, injuries, and deaths have occurred due to negligence of this nature?

We will never know.  Very few incidents are publicized.

Contractors with psychiatric meltdowns are spirited away and promoted or dumped on their families.  The victims of the melt downs are paid to keep them from filing a Defense Base Act Claim.

Deaths and Injuries of many foreigners are never filed on because they and their families do not know they are due benefits.  Defense Base Act Claim filings are the only numbers kept.

Paul McGuigan

All accidents in the warzones are the fault of no one due to the DBA’s Exclusive Remedy and dead men tell few tales when no real unbiased investigation is required.

There has been a very vocal outcry from the families and friends of Paul McGuigan and to a lesser extent Darren Hoare regarding what a bad man Danny Fitzsimons is and how they cannot wait to see him hung.  We get these comments on our blogs as well as witness them in recent media coverage.

But there is an odd abscence of them laying any blame where it us undoubtedly deserved upon the negligence of ArmorGroup for arming Danny Fitzsimons and putting their loved ones in his path.

Confidentiality?

Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan paid for this negligence with their lives.

The families of all involved have paid dearly and always will.

Danny Fitzsimons will soon pay for his actions, as well as every wrong done by every Contractor to the Iraqi people.

Danny Fitzsimons is to the Iraqi’s what Raymond Davis is the Pakistani’s.

Danny Fitzsimons is Blackwater in their eyes.

Armorgroup continues to guard the US Embassy in Kabul despite having the low bid contract “taken away”.

Posted in Armorgroup, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Judge tosses Blackwater deaths suit after 6 years

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 25, 2011

A congressional investigation concurred with that view, calling Blackwater an “unprepared and disorderly” organization on the day of the ambush.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit that blamed the security company formerly known as Blackwater for the deaths of four contractors killed in a grisly 2004 ambush on the restive streets of Iraq.

U.S. District Judge James C. Fox said court-ordered arbitration fell apart because neither side was paying the costs of that process, so he decided to shut the case nearly seven years after the killings. Katy Helvenston, the mother of contractor Scott Helvenston, said Tuesday the families couldn’t afford the costs, and she fears the case is over. The lawsuit was filed about a year after the men’s deaths.

“It’s pretty much destroyed my life,” Helvenston said. “I haven’t known one moment of joy since Scotty was slaughtered. I think the worst party is the betrayal from my country. I feel so betrayed.”

Insurgents killed the four contractors, then mutilated the bodies, dragged the charred remains through the streets and hung two of the corpses from a bridge. Images from the scene were relayed around the world, and the event triggered a massive U.S. military siege known as the Battle of Fallujah.

Survivors of the contractors contend Blackwater failed to prepare the men for their mission and didn’t provide them with appropriate equipment, such as a map. Helvenston, Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague were sent in Mitsubishi SUVs to guard a supply convoy. Their survivors argued they should have been given armored vehicles.

A congressional investigation concurred with that view, calling Blackwater an “unprepared and disorderly” organization on the day of the ambush.

Blackwater, however, argued that the men were betrayed by the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and targeted in a well-planned ambush. The company said the result of the ambush likely would have been the same even if they had stronger weapons, armored vehicles, maps or even more men.

Following a 2007 shooting in Baghdad, Blackwater changed its management, name and eventually its ownership. USTC Holdings, an investment firm with ties to founder Erik Prince, acquired the company that’s now called Xe Services in December. The deal includes its training facility in Moyock, N.C.

Daniel Callahan, an attorney representing the survivors, said they plan to appeal the ruling. Helvenston said she doesn’t expect success from further appeals.

An attorney for Xe didn’t immediately repond to requests seeking comment.

See Background Setback for Families Suing Blackwater

RALEIGH, N.C.  Associated Press-- A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit that accused the security company formerly known as Blackwater of wrongful death, closing the case more than six years after four company contractors were killed in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge James C. Fox said in his decision that neither side was paying for court-ordered arbitration. The mother of one of the contractors said Tuesday the families couldn’t afford the costs and that the case appears over.

Insurgents killed the four contractors in a March 2004 ambush, then mutilated the bodies before dragging the charred remains through the streets and hanging two from a bridge.

Survivors of the men contend Blackwater failed to prepare them for the mission and didn’t provide them with appropriate equipment.

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Misjudgements, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Contractor, DynCorp, found not liable for war-zone employee deaths

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 14, 2010

From the Federal Times

See also The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy A License to Kill

In a decision that could have broad implications for government contractors, the Delaware Supreme Court on Dec. 8 upheld a lower court ruling that an employee-signed agreement waiving liability precludes lawsuits for wrongful death and negligence.

Is DynCorp having employees sign separate agreements stating this or are they relying on the normally undisclosed Exclusive Remedy clause in the DBA?  There is no DBA policy to read and agree to.

On Aug. 29, 2004, John Deuley and Gerald Gibson, two civilian police officers working for a subsidiary of DynCorp International, were killed in an attack on the State Department’s civilian police headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Joseph Dickinson, another civilian police officer, was severely injured in the attack.

Deuley’s and Gibson’s wives filed wrongful death and survival lawsuits, while Dickinson filed a personal injury lawsuit against DynCorp, headquartered in Delaware.

The Delaware Supreme Court, in upholding the lower court’s dismissal of the case, rejected the argument that the employee agreement was vague by releasing the company of responsibility on “any claim” in return for agreed-upon benefits, and the court rejected the argument that the agreement did not extend to employer negligence, according to court documents.

The significant part of the agreement, according to the court, states that “the employee understands and accepts the fact that he or she may be exposed to dangers due to the nature of the mission. The employee agrees that neither the Employer nor its affiliates will be liable in the event of death, injury, or disability, to Employee, except as stated.”

DynCorp’s agreement with the employees involved the purchase of life insurance, medical coverage and disability benefits as required under the Defense Base Act, under which many government contractors operate, but releases DynCorps from legal damages from negligence or other issues such as wrongful death.

Please see the complete article at the above link

 

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Dyncorp, Exclusive Remedy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Leishmaniasis: A Family Affair

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 27, 2010

A Deadly Danger To Every Troop Serving In Or Near Iraq;
It Can Kill You, It Can Kill Your Wife, It Can Kill Your Kids:
And The V.A. Tries To Cover It Up

August 07, 2006 Paul Egan, The Detroit News [Excerpts]

Nobody can say U.S. Army veteran Arvid Brown’s Gulf War illness is all in his head.

Brown’s late wife, Janyce, caught leishmaniasis — a sometimes deadly parasitic disease borne by sand flies that can attack the body’s cells and internal organs — a malady he brought home from Operation Desert Storm. So did the Swartz Creek couple’s two young children.

Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled the federal government and the Department of Veterans Affairs can be sued for alleged failure to diagnose Brown’s illness and for any injuries he and his family suffered.

Veterans’ groups are hailing the decision as a victory for families of tens of thousands of veterans of not only the first Gulf War, in which Brown served, but subsequent Mideast conflicts.

“This is a huge case,” said Joyce Riley, spokeswoman for the American Gulf War Veterans Association in Versailles, Mo. “This gives a lot of veterans a lot of hope.”

When Brown, now 48, returned from the Gulf War in 1991, he couldn’t understand why his once-vigorous health was deteriorating. His head, muscles and bones ached, his strength was sapped; he was constantly exhausted but could not sleep.

Doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs could not pinpoint an ailment.

They denied him disability benefits in 1995, and Brown said they prescribed painkillers and mood-altering drugs that made things worse.

It was Brown’s wife, Janyce, who had the research skills and persistence eventually to find a doctor who in 1998 diagnosed Brown with leishmaniasis.

By then, Janyce, too, had contracted the disease and both the couple’s children had been born with it and other ailments, according to medical reports filed in the case from Dr. Gregory Forstall, then-director of infectious diseases at McLaren Regional Medical Center in Flint, now in private practice.

The government has not disputed the medical reports.

Janyce Brown developed a series of ailments and last year died at age 43 of a rare and inoperable form of liver cancer. Though no definite link was established between her leishmaniasis and other diseases, Arvid Brown said his wife was healthy before they met.

Janyce Brown in 2004 brought a $125 million lawsuit against the government, but a federal judge in Detroit ruled the family couldn’t sue for injuries a soldier suffered while on active duty.

Late last month, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati partially overturned O’Meara’s decision, saying the government is not liable for injuries suffered while Brown was on active duty but it can be sued for what happened once he returned to Michigan. The government may appeal, officials said.

“They should not be allowed to just use us up and throw us away,” said Brown, now alone and raising two disabled children, ages 9 and 10, on his disability income. “Somebody has got to be accountable.”

Mark Zeller, 42, a Gulf War veteran in Dahlonega, Ga., said he is about to bring a lawsuit against the government and believes the decision in Brown’s case will strengthen his legal position.

“I can’t do anything and I have to sleep all the time,” said Zeller, who has been diagnosed by Veterans Affairs doctors with chronic fatigue syndrome but says his wife and five children also constantly suffer from flulike symptoms.

Leishmaniasis is little-known in North America but common in southwest Asia and many other parts of the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12 million people in the tropics and subtropics have the disease. One form produces skin lesions.

The more severe and deadly form, which Brown has, attacks blood cells and the body’s internal organs. Like malaria, it is a chronic disease that can be controlled but not cured.

[And guess what. Lots of troops in Iraq get the skin lesions. And the military doctors give them a little cream to make it go away. And they do NOT tell the troops that the parasite the causes the skin lesions can still be alive and well insider your body, hibernating, and then breaking loose to infect and destroy your internal organs.

Dr. Katherine Murray Leisure is a former Department of Veterans Affairs doctor now in private practice in Lebanon, Pa., specializing in infectious diseases. She said leishmaniasis if often difficult to diagnose and could be an underlying factor in half or more of the thousands of cases of veterans commonly referred to as suffering from “Gulf War syndrome.”

Bedouins and others who live in the desert clothe their entire bodies for good reasons, Murray Leisure said. But, when U.S. forces go to the desert to fight, “we try to pretend we’re at the Jersey shore.”

No reliable numbers are available on how many family members believe they have been infected.

But Riley, a registered nurse and former U.S. Air Force captain, said she believes tens of thousands of veterans’ relatives have suffered.

“I think this is the Titanic,” said Robert P. Walsh, Brown’s Battle Creek attorney. “All these guys saw was the tip of the iceberg.”

Arvid Brown, who grew up in southwest Detroit, spent about six months overseas during Desert Storm, helping to build, maintain and operate a prisoner of war camp near Hafr Al-Batin in northeastern Saudi Arabia, about 25 miles from the Iraqi border.

Brown remembers the sand flies, the camel spiders and the bug repellent. He remembers meeting soldiers in the desert who wore dogs’ flea collars around their necks, wrists and ankles and thinking how unhealthy that seemed.

The muscle aches, bone pains, headaches and rashes began while he was in Saudi Arabia, but “it was easy to attribute it to heat and everything I was doing,” Brown recalled.

Solving the mystery would take seven years as Brown’s condition worsened through periods of disorientation, blackouts, extreme light sensitivity and almost unbearable pain. By 1998, when he was finally diagnosed, Brown had lost his job, been forced to give up driving and said he awoke early most mornings from a fitful sleep, vomiting blood.

Veterans Affairs doctors, who according to court records examined Brown on Sept. 13, 1994, but did not detect the disease, said he was suffering anxiety attacks and prescribed pills, Brown said. The department did not grant him benefits until 1998 and only this year recognized his diagnosis of leishmaniasis.

Brown wed Janyce Surface in September 1994 as his health continued to spiral downward. He lost his job and they struggled to pay bills.

Children arrived: Asa, now 10, in 1995, and his sister, Helen, now 9, in 1997. Both were born with severe handicaps and later tested positive for leishmaniasis. Helen is still unable to speak.

It was Janyce Brown who got her husband an appointment with Forstall, who diagnosed Arvid Brown with leishmaniasis in October 1998. Chemotherapy put the disease into remission, though Brown continues to struggle with his health today.

By 2000, Janyce Brown and both children had also tested positive for leishmaniasis. As Janyce struggled to care for her husband and look after two young children with cerebral palsy, her own health rapidly deteriorated. She died at home of cancer.

“She was an extremely intelligent individual, someone with the will and the nerves of steel and the tenaciousness of the meanest bulldog you had ever come across,” Brown said.

“She was fighting for her husband, the man she loved … and her children … She will always be my biggest hero.”

Editors note:  The Browns have Leishmaniasis Viscerotropica which was formerly considered to a cutaneous species but has evolved into a milder visceral species.  It takes longer to kill you.  It may or may not produce skin lesions.



Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Leishmaniasis, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Trial adjourned of former soldier, Danny Fitzsimons, accused of murder in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 7, 2010

Danny Fitzsimons to undergo psychiatric tests after being charged with killing two fellow security contractors in Baghdad

See Also at BBC News

British former soldier’s Iraq murder trial adjourned

The trial of a British security guard accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has been adjourned for two months for psychiatric assessments.

The trial of a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has been adjourned for two months so he can undergo psychiatric tests.

Former paratrooper Danny Fitzsimons, 29, is charged with shooting dead fellow ArmorGroup employees Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare, both 37, in Baghdad’s green zone in August last year.

Fitzsimons, who could face the death penalty if he is convicted, appeared at the central criminal court in Baghdad for a pre-trial hearing today.

Reprieve, a legal charity supporting Fitzsimons, said his case was adjourned until 13 June, apparently so he could be examined by a psychiatric team at Baghdad’s Al Rashad psychiatric hospital.

In a detailed account of the killings given to the Guardian earlier this month, Fitzsimons admitted shooting both men dead but insisted he acted in self-defence.

Fitzsimons said he shot McGuigan, a former Royal Marine from Innerleithen in Scotland, three times when McGuigan allegedly pointed an assault rifle at him.

He said Hoare, from Australia, was killed during a fight that followed. All three men had been contracted to work as guards for ArmorGroup, a British security company.

Fitzsimons – who faces two counts of murder and one of the attempted murder of an Iraqi guard – and his lawyers claim he acted in self-defence and was suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder after a previous tour of Iraq and service in the military in the former Yugoslavia.

His lawyers, who are aware of his admission to the Guardian, claim he should never have been allowed to work for a security company given his condition and record. This defence is disputed by relatives of McGuigan, who say Fitzsimons is trying to escape justice by concocting a story of a drunken fight when none occurred.

Fitzsimons has admitted his recollection was at points “blotchy” because of heavy drinking and claimed McGuigan and Hoare had been harassing him throughout the evening.

Fitzsimons said in a statement issued through Reprieve: “I miss my family very much but I’m grateful for the support I have been getting from home, particularly from my former comrades who know a bit about what we all went through. I know that this has been a tragedy and hurt a lot of people besides myself.”

He is understood to be the first westerner facing trial on murder charges in Iraq since an agreement giving foreign workers immunity was lifted.

The shootings took place in the early hours of 9 August last year, within 36 hours of Fitzsimons’s arrival in Baghdad to work for ArmorGroup.

It emerged after the killings that Fitzsimons had a conviction for firearms offences and was facing a possible jail term in Britain for firing a flare gun to scare off children on 1 April last year.

His family said he had suffered from alcoholism and depression and was a damaged individual who should never have been given a job as an armed security guard in Iraq.

They fear his mental state has deteriorated while awaiting trial, and are appealing for him to be allowed to serve any sentence he is given in Britain.  Original here

Posted in Armorgroup, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, Melt Down | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hilda Solis: Labor’s New Sheriff ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 1, 2010

After an entire year of asking Hilda Solis to address the ruthless treatment of Injured War Zone Contractors by AIG, CNA, and ACE and being completely ignored, we are having a hard time choking down this story.

A Labor Day Message to Hilda Solis

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Avoids interviews and meetings with Contractor Groups

Injured Abroad Neglected at Home

We have much to say about being ignored by Hilda Solis and her refusal to acknowledge us or be interviewed regarding the Defense Base Act Workers’ Comp program that her Department of Labor has allowed us to be physically and financially abused by.  Sure we fell into this black hole during the Bush Administration but this Administration has allowed the continued financial ruin and denied medical benefits to thousands of American Families and those of our allies.  Winning hearts and minds all around the world.

We’ll have something more on this very soon.

For now, here is what she’s done for those in a position to lobby.

Hilda Solis:  Labor’s New Sheriff

by Esther Kaplan at The Nation

Here is an excerpt, you will want to read the full story at

The Nation

During the Bush years, the Department of Labor became a cautionary tale about what happens when foxes are asked to guard the henhouse. But since California Congresswoman Hilda Solis became labor secretary last winter, she has brought on board a team of lifelong advocates for working people–some of whom come from the ranks of organized labor–and has hired hundreds of new investigators and enforcers.

President Obama calls Solis part of his economic team, but the truth is she’s not part of the daily huddle at the White House with Summers and Geithner and Orszag. She’s tapped instead as a lead voice in the “jobs, jobs, jobs” choir, advocating for Obama’s latest stimulus package. She has tiptoed into the realm of financial regulation, organizing a joint hearing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the abysmal performance of target date retirement funds during the market crash, and she doles out hundreds of millions of dollars in job training funds, a decent chunk of which she has used to shape policy by channeling it to green industries. But Solis understands that her real influence lies in her power to enforce the nation’s labor laws–the primary mission of the DoL. It’s a role she embraced with relish at her swearing-in, where she announced with a grin, “To those who have for too long abused workers, put them in harm’s way, denied them fair pay, let me be clear: there is a new sheriff in town.”

Indeed, Solis threw her weight around on Capitol Hill when one key deputy, Labor Solicitor Patricia Smith, faced stiff opposition from business lobbies and the GOP. One of Smith’s predecessors as labor solicitor–the nation’s top enforcer of labor laws–was Eugene Scalia, son of the Supreme Court justice. Scalia’s previous claim to fame was his successful campaign to block an ergonomics safety standard, using an industry-supported Astroturf group to question whether repetitive-motion injuries exist at all. As labor solicitor, he invoked the Taft-Hartley Act against West Coast longshoremen locked out by their employer (a former client) and made a habit of undermining his own agency, writing a brief supporting limits on whistleblower protections. After a one-year tour, he landed on the lush payroll of Gibson Dunn, a leading “union avoidance” firm, where he now serves as an expert on “downsizing” when not penning attacks on the Employee Free Choice Act for the Wall Street Journal.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Department of Labor, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Martin V. Halliburton

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 24, 2010

MARTIN v. HALLIBURTON

KRISTEN MARTIN; DONALD TOLFREE, deceased, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
HALLIBURTON; KBR INC; KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT INC; KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT SERVICES INC; SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL INC., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 09-20441.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Filed March 23, 2010.

See also  Lawsuit blames KBR in Driver Death at Anaconda

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan, Beyshee Velez and Lucas Trent Vinson

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 19, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We post regular updates here about Danny Fitzsimons and the deaths of Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan.

We’d like the family members of those involved in this tragedy to understand that our deepest sympathies over your losses are with you.  We are not attempting to paint a picture of innocence or guilt.

We do however feel it is important to continue hammering out the fact that these tragedies were preventable.

Only one month after the deaths of Darren and Paul, Spec Beyshee Velez, at the end of his third deployment in the war zone,  shot and killed Lucas Trent Vinson, a Civilian Contractor, while in a suspected psychotic episode.

Neither the military nor the Contractor Companies have fully acknowledged the dangers of  PTSD and other mental conditions caused by war zone stress.  The murders of these contractors make it clear that the dangers run well beyond the tortured mind of the beholder.

Nor do they accept responsiblity for their negligence in failing to prevent these deaths.

Boots on the ground, warm bodies with guns they can bill for, win out over the value of human life.

The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy enables this negligence for the contract company.

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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