Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘injured contractors’

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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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)

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

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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 »

John J Keys and Jacob A West receive Defense of Freedom Medal

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 6, 2012

Fairbanks civilian contractor who survived blast in Afghanistan honored

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kendall P. Cox, left, presents the Defense of Freedom Medal to John Keys, 52, of Fairbanks, who was injured when a bomb exploded while Keys was conducting a road survey near Paktika Province, Afghnistan, injuring Keys and killing U.S. service members Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveria, 33, of Newark, N.J. The medal also was presented to Jacob West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., who was injured with Keys. / Photo by Mark Rankin, AED North Public Affairs Office
Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks engineer saw first hand last fall how Afghanistan is a dangerous assignment whether for a soldier or a civilian. While working on a new road in an Afghan village John J. Keys was hit by an 80-pound roadside bomb. Keys, another Army civilian and a translator survived, but two military men they had been working with for months were killed instantly.

Perhaps thankless is the best word for the engineering assignment. Keys found out later that the villagers for whom they were building the road likely saw the bomb-layers digging for several days to install the bomb.

Yet no one bothered to warn them.

Keys, 52, is no stranger to war zones. In his recent career he was been a a civil engineer at Fort Wainwright, where he helped design some the post’s barracks. But before coming to Fairbanks in 1994 he served in the Air National Guard during Operation Desert Storm and later on drug interdiction assignments in Central and South America.

As a civilian engineer, Keys said he has good protection from the military with a close aerial presence and an escort of soldiers. But he never forgot he was in a war. “You’re always careful,” he said. “You’re looking for signs of (improved explosive devices), hand trails where they bury the wires … You’re always aware that anything could happen at any time.”

On Oct. 19, Keys was inspecting a two-lane gravel road through the village of Yahya Khel in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. He was on (and now directs) a provisional reconstruction team, a combined military and civilian crew that was going to convert a gravel road to cobblestones at the request of the village. As a member of the team, Keys wore full combat gear minus the weapons and was traveling with a convoy of heavy mine-resistant vehicles. Instead of an assault rifle he carried a camera to document the road conditions.

A photograph he took a few minutes before the blast shows a relatively innocuous scene: a dusty road flanked by earthen walls. A group of men in white robes sit and stand in a doorway talking to soldiers.

The blast went off about 100 meters from where the photograph was taken. The explosion killed Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J. Keys was blown of his feet and knocked 20 feet into a gully, according to an account of the explosion recorded in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Keys said. “I was in full-body pain and I wasn’t where I started.”

The other Army civilian, Jacob A. West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., remembered only a smell of burning dirt, chemical and plastic from the moments after the blast, according to the Army news release. His first clear memory was sitting in the armored vehicle where he saw Keys return to the site of the blast to look for the two military men.

“He (Keys) did all that without being asked,” West said according to the release. “He did all that on his own without any regard for his personal safety. He was part of that team. I think that was significant. People should know that.”

This week, Keys and West were both presented the Defense of Freedom Metal, the equivalent of the military Purple Heart for Department of Defense civilians

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Injured Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Testing Program Fails Soldiers, Leaving Brain Injuries Undetected

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 28, 2011

A version [1] of this story was co-produced with NPR and aired on All Things Considered [2]. (Check here for local listings [3].)

by T Christian Miller and Joaquin Sapien at ProPublica and Daniel Zwerdling at NPR

About 40 uniformed soldiers take the ANAM test inside this squat rectangular building on the Fort Lewis-McChord military base near Tacoma, Wash., in early September, weeks before they deploy to Afghanistan. (Joaquin Sapien/ProPublica)

In 2007, with roadside bombs exploding across Iraq, Congress moved to improve care for soldiers who had suffered one of the war’s signature wounds, traumatic brain injury

Lawmakers passed a measure requiring the military to test soldiers’ brain function before they deployed and again when they returned. The test was supposed to ensure that soldiers received proper treatment.

Instead, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR has found, the testing program has failed to deliver on its promise, offering soldiers the appearance of help, but not the reality.

Racing to satisfy Congress’ mandate, the military chose a test that wasn’t actually proven to detect TBI: the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metric, or ANAM.

Four years later, more than a million troops have taken the test at a cost of more than $42 million to taxpayers, yet the military still has no reliable way to catch brain injuries. When such injuries are left undetected, it can delay healing and put soldiers at risk for further mental damage.

Based on corporate and government records, confidential documents, scores of interviews and emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, our investigation found:

  • The people who invented ANAM and stood to make money from it were involved in the military’s decision to use it, prompting questions about the impartiality of the selection process. No other tests received serious consideration. A report [4] by the Army’s top neuropsychologist circulated last year to key members of Congress labeled the selection process “nepotistic.”
  • The Pentagon’s civilian leadership has ignored years of warnings, public and private, that there was insufficient scientific evidence the ANAM can screen for or diagnose traumatic brain injury. The military’s highest-ranking medical official said the test was “fraught with problems.” Another high-ranking officer said it could yield misleading results.
  • Compounding flaws in the ANAM’s design, the military has not administered the test as recommended and has rarely used its results. The Army has so little confidence in the test that its top medical officer issued an explicit order [5] that soldiers whose scores indicated cognitive problems should not be sent for further medical evaluation.
  • Top Pentagon officials have misrepresented the cost of the test, indicating that because the Army invented the ANAM, the military could use it for free. In fact, because the military licensed its invention to outside contractors, it has paid millions of dollars to use its own technology.
  • The military has not conducted a long-promised head-to-head study to make sure the ANAM is the best available test, delaying it for years. Instead, a series of committees have given lukewarm approval to continue using the ANAM, largely to avoid losing the data gathered so far.

Several current and former military medical officials criticized the Defense Department’s embrace of a scientifically unproven tool to use on hundreds of thousands of soldiers with TBIs

Please read this article in it’s entirety at ProPublica

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, Iraq, PTSD and TBI, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Injured War Contractors Sue Over Health Care, Disability Payments

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 27, 2011

T Christian Miller ProPublica September 27, 2011

Private contractors injured while working for the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan filed a class action lawsuit [1] in federal court on Monday, claiming that corporations and insurance companies had unfairly denied them medical treatment and disability payments.

The suit, filed in district court in Washington, D.C., claims that private contracting firms and their insurers routinely lied, cheated and threatened injured workers, while ignoring a federal law requiring compensation for such employees. Attorneys for the workers are seeking $2 billion in damages.

The suit is largely based on the Defense Base Act, an obscure law that creates a workers compensation system for federal contract employees working overseas. Financed by taxpayers, the system was rarely used until the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most privatized conflicts in American history.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians working for federal contractors have been deployed to war zones to deliver mail, cook meals and act as security guards for U.S. soldiers and diplomats. As of June 2011, more than 53,000 civilians have filed claims for injuries in the war zones. Almost 2,500 contract employees have been killed, according to figures [2]kept by the Department of Labor, which oversees the system.

An investigation by ProPublica, the Los Angeles Times and ABC’s 20/20 [3] into the Defense Base Act system found major flaws, including private contractors left without medical care and lax federal oversight. Some Afghan, Iraqi and other foreign workers for U.S. companies were provided with no care at all.

The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, charges that major insurance corporations such as AIG and large federal contractors such as Houston-based KBR deliberately flouted the law, thereby defrauding taxpayers and boosting their profits. In interviews and at Congressional hearings, AIG and KBR have denied such allegations and said they fully complied with the law. They blamed problems in the delivery of care and benefits on the chaos of the war zones

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Ronco Consultilng, spykids, State Department, T Christian Miller, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Dementia Risk Linked to Combat Head Injury, Study Says

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 18, 2011

Defense Base Act Insurance Companies CNA and AIG  have been extremely negligent in denying Contractors injured in bomb blasts diagnoses and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury.

Diagnoses and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury delayed and denied results in irretrievable life long damage.

Bloomberg  July 18, 2011

Head injuries may more than double the risk of dementia in military veterans, a study found.

The dementia risk was 15.3 percent among U.S. veterans who had sustained a traumatic brain injury, compared with 6.8 percent for those who didn’t suffer head trauma, over a seven-year period. The risk was significant for all forms of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, according to researchers, who reviewed medical records of 281,540 veterans ages 55 and older.

The findings, to be presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Paris today, highlight another potential hazard of war. Traumatic brain injury is a“signature wound” of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, accounting for 22 percent of casualties overall and 59 percent of blast-related injuries, said Kristine Yaffe, director of the Memory Disorders Program at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research.

“This issue is important because TBI is very common,”Yaffe said in a statement. “The data suggest that TBI in older veterans may predispose them toward development of symptomatic dementia. And they raise concern about the potential long-term consequences of TBI in younger veterans.”

‘Pretty Conclusive’

“It’s pretty conclusive that there is an association between serious head injury and dementia,” Thies said in an interview. “What we can anticipate is that in all those soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, 20 years from now we are going to see a big increase in the amount of Alzheimer’s that’s going to develop.”

Please read the entire article at Bloomberg

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Delay, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Injured Contractors lawsuit alleges Blackwater failed to pay benefits

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 8, 2011

The lawsuit says Xe and its workers compensation insurers refused to provide benefits until forced to do so “after drawn out disputes in administrative courts.”

AFP June 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — Four former employees of Blackwater, the scandal-plagued security firm now called Xe, have filed a $60 million class action lawsuit claiming the firm failed to pay health and pension benefits to its employees.

Their lawyer, Scott Bloch, said Wednesday that Xe improperly classified thousands of its employees as independent contractors, allowing the company to avoid “millions of dollars in taxes, withholding and payments of benefits.”

“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers,” said Bloch in a statement

It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Washington, and hopes to recover Social Security, unemployment insurance, health and other benefits for the four plaintiffs, all of whom were injured while working for Blackwater.

“Plaintiffs and many of those similarly situated came home wounded physically and psychologically from Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, and needed health insurance to take care of difficulties for themselves and their families,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit says Xe and its workers compensation insurers refused to provide benefits until forced to do so “after drawn out disputes in administrative courts.”

Read the entire article here

Posted in AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, Xe | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

U.S. Army misled public about Acinetobacter outbreak’s origins, report shows

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 1, 2011

An internal 2005 U.S. Army study reported that improper use of antibiotics and unsanitary conditions at military hospitals contributed to a deadly outbreak of Acinetobacter infections — not Iraqi dirt in soldiers’ blast wounds, as officials publicly claimed until 2007.

Injured Civilian Contractors were infected with Acinetobacter baumannii in the military medical evacuation system causing many to lose limbs and some their lives.  At a minimum, treatment for an Acinetobacter baumannii infection causes a much longer recovery time and life long implications.

If you suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury your freshly compressed brain cells were bathed in huge doses of highly nuerotoxic antibiotics prophylacticly whether or not you had this infection creating a hostile environment for recovery at the very least.

by Bryant Furlow at EpiNewswire.com

The U.S. Army Public Health Command has released an incomplete list of epidemiological consultation (EPICON) studies from the past decade to epiNewswire, without mentioning the fact that the titles of some studies were not on the list.

One politically-sensitive Army report excluded from the disclosed list is a 2005 EPICON study detailing the spread of multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter infections from contaminated military hospitals in Iraq throughout the military hospital system.

That report details evidence that that improper use of antibiotics and unsanitary conditions at U.S. military hospitals were responsible for the deadly outbreak of Acinetobacter infections among wounded troops, and that the outbreak had spread to civilian patients in the U.S. and Germany, killing several of them.

But for several years after the study’s completion, Army health officials continued to downplay the risk to civilians and to make misleading statements to soldiers and the public, claiming Acinetobacter infections were from Iraqi soil in soldiers’ blast wounds.

In reality, Acinetobacter “wound infections were relatively uncommon,” the 2005 Acinetobacter EPICON report states. “Pre-hospital, primary wound infections in-theater are not likely to have a significant role in transmission.”

In Iraq, military surgeons were using broad-spectrum antibiotics as prophylactics against infection, “introducing a greater risk of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO) evolving as a result,” the report notes.

Hand hygiene practices were inconsistently observed by military healthcare workers, the report states.

“Proper hand washing has been the single most important measure in controlling hospital spread of Acinetobacter,” the report states.

All seven military hospitals in Iraq were found to be “contaminated” with Acinetobacter, the report states.

Civilians were at much greater risk from infections than soldiers, the report states.

The report recommended adoption of standardized infection control practices at military hospitals and the air evacuation system, including disinfection and hand washing practices – and noted a pressing need for improved medical record-keeping “at all levels of care, particularly in-theater.”

A German hospital accepting U.S. troops on a referral basis, experienced an Acinetobacter outbreak that spread to German patients, the report states. That outbreak “reflects the potential importance that the outbreak can have, and probably has had, outside of the direct chain of evacuation,” the report states. Similar outbreaks had occurred in British hospitals where UK troops had been treated, the report notes.

Missing and incomplete medical records complicated the study, the report states.

“Relatively few surveillance and infection control data are available from in-theater, although progress has been made,” the report states. “Data quality from patient chart reviews indicates large variation in data available and no standardization.”

The “absence of good documentation either precludes any ability to draw scientific conclusions or significantly complicates investigations and analyses that are critical for prioritizing interventional resources and saving lives,” the report states.

epiNewswire’s Bryant Furlow first reported on an Acinetobacter outbreak among Iraqi and U.S. patients on the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship Comfort in July 2006, in the International Affairs Journal’s International Update newsletter.

In February 2007, Wired magazine writer Steve Silberman subsequently broke the story of Acinetobacter’s spread to Europe, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and elsewhere. Silberman’s report details how the family of a U.S. Marine who died of his infection, was initially told he had died of his wounds.

That summer, citing two medical journal publications based on parts of the EPICON research effort,  Reuters reported that “new research” showed that contaminated hospitals, not Iraqi soil, caused the Acinetobacter outbreak.

In reality, military medical officials had suspected as much since spring 2003, the EPICON report indicates — and had known it to be the case since the first, 2004 symposium on the project’s initial findings.

Further reading:

EPICON #12-HA-01-JK-04, “Investigating Acinetobacter baumannii infections at U.S. Army military treatment facilities 27 August 2004 to 27 May 2005.” (View here, via Document Cloud.)

Steve Silberman. “The Invisible Enemy.” Wired magazine, February 2007.

Reuters Health. “Field hospitals source of soldier infections.” June 18, 2007.

The Iraq Infections

Please see the original at EpiNewswire

Posted in Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, AWOL Medical Records, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Defense, Injured Contractors, Iraq, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Caring for a Loved One with Chronic Pain: The Four Caregiver Cornerstones

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 12, 2011

by Lee Woodruff at Huffington Post

I’ve written before about the importance of caregivers — the unsung heroes in our midst. No one asks to become a caregiver. When you’re thrust into that role unexpectedly, it can be truly devastating, particularly when your loved one is experiencing chronic pain, a condition that affects a whopping 53 million Americans.

In 2006, my husband, Bob, was injured by an improvised explosive device while on assignment in Iraq. After he awoke from a five-week-long coma — also known as the longest five weeks of my life — he was in a tremendous amount of pain. His doctors in Baghdad had saved his life by removing 16 centimeters of his skull, so most of us can’t even imagine how that must have felt. Doctors implanted a skull liner after four months, but during that time, Bob was in extreme pain. Even sneezing hurt him immensely. I can tell you from personal experience, there is nothing worse than seeing a loved one in pain.

During this same time, I was trying accept my new reality — balancing my already busy life as a mother to four children (from twin five-year-olds to teenagers) with the new role of caregiver.

I remember when the magnitude of this responsibility hit me. After Bob was injured, he was flown from Iraq to Germany and then to Maryland, where he was being treated at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. A doctor there handed me a consent form for all of the various treatments Bob was about to undergo, and the form included a laundry list of the possible complications, including death. Wow, I thought to myself. This didn’t cross my mind when I was taking my marriage vows so many years ago — I’m completely and utterly responsible for this man’s life.

The enormity of that responsibility can weigh on you, and I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to help care for Bob; I had to find the information I needed without a guide. That’s why I am such a big believer in Caregiver Cornerstones, an educational program created by the National Family Caregivers Association and Purdue Pharma. Caregiver Cornerstones provides information and resources for individuals caring for a loved one in pain. I truly believe that if I had a resource like this during Bob’s recovery, it would have made a big difference. I’m happy to have the chance to help spread the word about this important initiative.

The four Caregiver Cornerstones are:

1. Learning about pain management

Take an active role in helping to manage your loved one’s pain. I know that in my case, I learned as much as I could about traumatic brain injury so that I could make educated decisions about Bob’s care. If you know as much information as possible about your loved one’s condition, pain management and treatment options, you may feel more useful and worry less.

2. Caring for a person with pain

This includes making sure that your loved one receives proper pain assessment and ensuring your loved one is following the treatment plan laid out in conjunction with a health care provider.

3. Caring for yourself

I know all too well that being a family caregiver can be a demanding job. Some days, you may feel like you can do anything, and others, you may not be sure how you’ll get through the day. To be an effective caregiver for someone else, you must first take care of yourself. Make sure to get enough rest, eat right, and exercise. I know that for me, I cut out coffee, soda, and alcohol to help myself feel better, and tried to do even one little thing for myself each day. It’s also critical to allow others to provide a support system, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

4. Advocating for all people in pain

For me, advocating has meant establishing The Bob Woodruff Foundation (www.remind.org) and talking widely about caregiving for a loved one in chronic pain. For you, advocating may mean contacting your elected officials to lobby for federal funds. The Caregiver Cornerstones program offers guidance on raising awareness about the importance of access to appropriate and effective pain care.

Please visit the Caregiver Corner section at PartnersAgainstPain.com where you can download a helpful brochure and learn more.

If you are a caring for a loved one living with chronic pain, it’s important to know that there is hope and there are resources available — you are not alone. Remember to educate yourself about your loved one’s condition, draw strength from family and friends, and take the time to care for yourself.

Please see the original here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Injured Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

How far can you be sent to a Defense Medical Examination ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 29, 2011

Coercion: the act of compelling by force of authority

Forcing an Injured Contractor to drive or fly far out their geographic area to go to Defense Medical Examinations which are falsely referred to as Independent Medical Examinations is among the most abusive tactics in the insurance companies arsenal.

They are often aided by the Department of Labor’s Claims Examiners going against their own rules and regulations.

ALJ Paul C Johnson even aided CNA by ordering that an injured contractor travel outside his geographic area.  Not because there weren’t plenty of doctors in this injured contractors area, just because CNA’s hired guns were not there.   The injured would lose his claim by not “obeying” this biased order.

What happens when the insurance company defies an order signed by an ALJ to provide medical to an injured contractor?  Nothing.  This is not to say that the order was his idea, we’ve never seen him award anything to anyone in a decision.

It is so blatantly obvious why the insurance company does not simply hire a doctor in the injured contractors geographic area for an unbiased second medical opinion.  They are hiring expert witnesses who will provide them with a report in their favor then provide testimony that will back them up if necessary.

Longshore Procedure Manual

e. The Employee shall submit to any special examination as may be requested by the employer at such place as is designated by the DD but at a place reasonably convenient to the employee.

(See section 7(d) of the Act and 20 C.F.R. sections 702.403 and 702.410.)
20 CFR 702.403 - Employee’s right to choose physician; limitations.
The employee shall have the right to choose his/her attending physician from among those authorized by the Director, OWCP, to furnish such care and treatment, except those physicians included on the Secretary’s list of debarred physicians. In determining the choice of a physician, consideration must be given to availability, the employee’s condition and the method and means of transportation.
Generally 25 miles from the place of injury, or the employee’s home is a reasonable distance to travel, but other pertinent factors must also be taken into consideration.

Injured Contractors have been flown or told they had to drive from as far as five and six states away to see AIG’s Fabulous Four Defense Medical Examiners in Houston or they would lose their claim.

Many of them traveled to see the notorious Dr John Dorland Griffith because their attorney told them they had to.

Threatening an injured contractor with the loss of benefits due them under the Defense Base Act if they do not travel unreasonably to see the insurance companies defense medical examiner/expert witness amounts to Coercion under any legal definition.

Worse, many  injured contractors are not being provided necessary medical by these companies while being coerced into traveling to see these whores.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Defense Medical Examinations, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, OALJ, Racketeering | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

David Hillman, DynCorp Civ-Pol, retired customs agent, civilian contractor, killed by suicide bomber in Kandahar Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 9, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - For the second time this week, western New York has lost a native son overseas. David Hillman, a civilian contractor, fell victim to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

The family is grieving, but wants the community to know about David Hillman’s devotion to his country, his loved ones, and friends.

David’s mom, Angeline Hillman, said, “He kept telling us, ‘Don’t worry, everything is safe.’”

David Hillman at age 60 had gone to Afghanistan to help teach the police there how to protect their border.

David’s father, “Bud” Hillman said, “He said he just wanted to go over and help.”

David had been situated in the southern province of Kandahar, which remains a hotbed of Taliban activity. A suicide bomber attacked the customs warehouse where David was working. His family believes the bomber was 12-years-old.

David’s sister, Diane Strawbrich, said, “I don’t know how you fight against a 12-year-old walking in and detonating. I don’t know how you avoid that.”

David had avoided injury while serving in Vietnam. He started his career with the U.S. Customs Service in Buffalo back in 1973. When he decided to come out of retirement and work for a contractor in Afghanistan, he told his family not to worry.  Please read the entire story here

Buffalo News

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection worker who began his career in Buffalo and later moved up the ranks was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security officials said today.

David Hillman, a Western New York native, was working as a border mentor and adviser in Afghanistan when the attack occurred at the Inland Customs Warehouse in Kandahar.

Three other retired Customs workers, Michael Lachowsky, Terry Sherrill, and Vernon Rinus, were injured in the attack.

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Dyncorp, Injured Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Thar’s Gold in Them Injured Contractor’s DBA Claims

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 29, 2011

Or So You’d Think……..

Seems like just yesterday one  Houston Attorney was bragging to the media

that he was one of only a few attorneys across the country who even handled

Defense Base Act Claims

-for better or worse-

For too many of  us here it proved to be for worse

As of late there are a rash of new websites up for Attorneys

who want to represent you in your DBA claim

In the words of one Attorney

“there is so much money, just there for the taking”

He was not referring to the claimants award

We welcome new untainted blood to the DBA Attorney gene pool

We are pleased to have more attorneys advocating for the injured contractor

when indeed that is their intention

But please do not do further harm to the injured and widowed by taking on claims

you are ill prepared or inclined to put up a tenacious and timely fight for

To those of you who know the law and will advocate for the claimant

Welcome to the Wild Wild West

but it’s no gold mine

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

The DBA Casualty: Injured Employee or Financial Transaction

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 6, 2011

“The touch of a human hand and tone of voice can do so much in the process we call healing”

So often, we see workplace injuries that are treated as financial transactions when, in reality, they are fundamentally human events: someone is injured, often through no fault of their own. The complexity of the system a worker may find themselves suddenly thrust into, the unfamiliar insurance jargon, the impersonality – all occurring at a point where the worker may be feeling fear and anxiety about their future physical and financial well being.  WCI

As this applies to the Defense Base Act

One minute your a valued employee contributing to the finances of the company and the next you are a financial, if not ethical, liability to them.

Often, rather than help the injured contractor secure the DBA medical and compensation the employer will team up with the insurance company against them.

This is despite the Exclusive Remedy clause which relieves the employer of all liability for any reason no matter if they put you in excessive danger or not.  We still do not understand why the employer involvement when the DBA insurance is cost reimbursable to them, no fear of the rates going up.  In fact many of the Government agencies are contracting the pricing of their DBA premiums.

For most contractors injured in Iraq or Afghanistan it amounts to being thrust into a world where you have no control over your own medical care or your finances.  Few will have an advocate to help them through when they are at their most vulnerable.

Not the DoL LHWCA though it is their stated mission.

And many of them will never be awarded the medical and compensation that was intended to protect them.

Our prescription: Less thinking about the injured worker as a claimant and more thinking about them as a person. In our experience, that’s what leads to the best financial outcomes in the long run. WCI

Thanks again to Worker’s Comp Insider for presenting the flip side of the coin, so to speak.

Please read the post from which we have  quoted and view the video at their blog

Posted in ACE, Aegis, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Congratulations and Special Thanks to MsSparky

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 15, 2010

All of us at Defense Base Act Comp would like to Thank MsSparky for her tireless efforts and her support of injured contractors.  We look forward to the next thousand posts!!

Ms Sparky’s one thousandth (1000th) blog post

Oh my! 1000 published blog posts! Who would have figured after 30 months of investigative blogging I would still be at it. 1000 published posts is a huge accomplishment for any blogger. I’m very proud of this milestone!

One would think I would have run out of things to write about regarding Defense contracting fraud and Pentagon incompetence, but it just keeps spewing forth. It’s like the Defense Departments very own “Old Faithful” geyser of crap! It just keeps blowing! I have to thank companies like Fluor, Dyncorp, CSA, SBH, Blackwater, ArmorGroup, Agility and mostly….(tearing up) KBR for making stupid management decisions that always give me something to write about. I will be forever grateful (sniff sniff).

I couldn’t have met this milestone without the support of my friends and family, my regular readers, guest writers, other collaborating bloggers, published authors, investigative reporters, super sleuths, whistle blowers, attorneys, concerned citizens, former and current defense contractor employees, widows, spouses, parents and most importantly………

I have to say, this has been a most amazing journey with the most interesting twists and turns along the way. Blogging at is not like any 9-5 job I’ve ever had. I can’t really plan my day. I may THINK I know what I’m going to be doing after I get that first cup of coffee, but then reality sets in when I open my email and there’s some little (or big) gem of information. I just get all excited like a kid on Christmas morning! 2010 has been an interesting year because the majority of my work has been unpublished and behind the scenes. It doesn’t pay much in dollars, but I think this is the most rewarding and satisfying job I have every had!

One of the hardest, but most rewarding parts of this job is watching victims prevail as they doggedly pursue justice not only for themselves but for others. I’ve watched victims overcome tragedy and turn their pain and grief into something positive for those still suffering. I’m in constant awe of the strength and determination of the human spirit.

Without a doubt, the very best part of this job are the friends I’ve made along way.  Some, I’ve never met in person. Some, I never will, but friends just the same. I am truly blessed!

Thank you for the FIRST 1000 posts!  Please see the original with comments here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Are UK companies on American contracts violating UK law and hiding behind the DBA exclusive remedy?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 6, 2010

Posted by our Brit Guy

Thanks to a landmark ruling in the House of Lords.  A ruling as far back as August 2006

The decision means that a traveler claiming against a party insured outside of England and Wales is entitled to UK levels of damages – among the highest in the world – even if the law in the country concerned limits the scope of compensation.

Whilst the article relates to holiday makers several UK law firms are now studying the ruling to see if it can be applied to injured contractors.
This is a complicated area of law below a brief but by no means a full quote of the law but an area which gives a basic idea.

Whilst the article relates to holiday makers several UK law firms are now studying the ruling to see if it can be applied to injured contractors.
This is a complicated area of law below a brief but by no means a full quote of the law but an area which gives a basic idea.

The contract of employment is an important document as are the facts as to who has day to day control over a worker’s activities whilst he is working abroad. Many duties of an employer to their worker are not delegable to a third party (such as s foreign company where the worker is sent to do his job) even though the employer may deny responsibility for health and safety. For many practical and financial reasons it is often very important that a worker can show that there is a UK based Defendant to a accident claim even though the injury occurred whilst working abroad.

So UK companies relying on the exclusive remedy of the DBA may in fact be liable under the laws of England and Wales for any shortfall in payments. Indeed foreign contractors can have benefits commutated to halve of future installments.

Also they may be liable for the shortfall as of the maximum amount being paid to limit the insurers liability.

Whilst we have to wait for the legal profesionals to work through this it has the possibility to expose several UK companies to huge loses because of the DBA policy.


If it is found that the law applies to injured contractors then the question to be asked is why are we insured under an inadequate policy which does not apply in the UK but cost the US taxpayer millions ????

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Injured Contractors, Iraq, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“Wikipedia Journalism” Can be Contagious

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 8, 2010

Many Injured Contractors were repatriated via the Military Medical Evacuation System which was/is badly contaminated with Multi Drug Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.  Soldiers and Contractors alike lost lives and limbs to this dangerous Superbug.

Injured Contractors played an even larger role in the spread of MDRAb across the US and to every country of the “coalition” than did the soldiers themselves.  Injured Contractors were infected  in field hospitals, Landstuhl, Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval, and then transferred to Civilian Community hospitals.    Civilian hospitals were seldom warned their new transfers were infected with a life threatening highly contagious bacteria.

The DoD’s usual knee jerk reaction was to cover this problem up rather than deal with it.  Lie about to be exact.

Steve Silberman, Investigative Journalist for Wired, has written again, on the spread of this Superbug and the Military and “Wikipedia Journalism’s” aiding and abetting the enemy.

Is Wikipedia Journalism Aiding the Spread of a Deadly Superbug?

by Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes

Japan is in an uproar. Last week, officials at the Teikyo University Hospital admitted that 46 patients in the past year have been infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium called Acinetobacter baumannii, and that 27 have died. Today, the number of infected patients was increased to 53, and hospital announced that it would admit no new patients until it checks for the presence of the bacteria in more than 800 patients currently in the hospital. In a contrite press conference, hospital officials admitted that they had not promptly reported the infections to local authorities as they are legally required to do, and that this delay likely contributed to the spread of the bacteria through the wards, and to patient deaths.

Meanwhile, other Tokyo hospitals are also now reporting infections and deaths. Yurin Hospital discovered that eight of its patients — aged 59 to 100 — were colonized by the bacteria, and four of them have died. Three patients at the Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital were also infected, and one has died. The bacteria seems to be spreading rapidly through hospitals in the Japanese metropolis, aided by patient transfers, overuse of antibiotics, lack of sufficient infection control, and failure to report the infections to health authorities. Seeking to place the blame for the seemingly sudden upsurge of the bacteria, The Daily Yomiuri ominously speculated today, “Could medical tourists bring something more sinister than their own health problems with them when they come to Japan?”

Sadly, none of this is a surprise to me: not the rapid spread of the bacteria, not the deaths, and not the failure to acknowledge the problem until numerous patients had died or become colonized, and not the frantic seeking to place the blame by demonizing people from other cultures. The same pattern emerged in an epidemic of Acinetobacter baumannii infections among American and Canadian troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I wrote about for Wired magazine in 2007, in an in-depth investigative feature called “The Invisible Enemy.”

Back then, it was the U.S. Defense Department officials who were slow to acknowledge rampant acinetobacter infections in the ranks, and they were not nearly as eager to take responsibility as Japanese officials have been this week. Indeed, there seemed to be a coordinated effort to mislead the press about the true source of the infections. Antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is almost always found in hospitals and other health care facilities. It is a nosocomial infection — like MRSA, Clostridium difficile, and the other horsemen of the post-antibiotic apocalypse, it preys on those who are already sick, elderly, or traumatically injured, piling agony upon agony. That’s why troops and civilians gravely wounded in war are one of acinetobacter’s favorite target demographics: all that fresh, exposed meat, left undefended by already weakened immune systems or immunosuppressive drugs. Particularly among the young — car-crash victims and the like — many acinetobacter infections go undetected, because the primary trauma alone is enough to kill the patient.

The story coming from Washington, however, was that the source of the bacteria was Iraqi insurgents who were intentionally “dosing” improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with the superbug, in the form of dog feces or rotting meat. The alternate version of the official story was that Acinetobacter baumannii lurks in the Iraqi soil itself, waiting to pounce on young American warriors like some kind of microbial jihad. In the fog of war, reporters bought these official story lines and parroted them dutifully, from CNN’s Situation Room to CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who called A. baumanniian Iraqi bacteria” (as if organisms carry passports) after barely surviving an IED attack and subsequent infection in 2006. In the military and the press, the bacteria acquired the catchy nickname “Iraqibacter,” which has a darkly ironic grain of truth to it — wounded Iraqi citizens cared for in our field hospitals in the early days of the war became infected at much higher rates than our troops, and were then released back into a country with a health-care infrastructure that had been bombed back to the Stone Age.

For more information about how the Pentagon conducted a secret war against this bacteria, see my 2007 story. But I knew when I filed it that the saga of the medical battle against Acinetobacter baumannii was just beginning. Since my story ran, there have been numerous outbreaks of the superbug in hospitals in Europe and Asia, with scores of patients — both military and civilian — left dead.

In time, the “dosed IED” story slowly faded away. But one aspect of the misleading press coverage of the bacteria refuses to die: the notion — repeated by the Mainichi Daily News and other Japanese papers this week — that multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is commonly found in water and soil. This notion — that A. baumannii is nearly ubiquitous in the natural world — has been reinforced by everyone from local TV news stations to the New York Times.

Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is not commonly found in water and soil. It is found in hospitals and clinics, where the tenacious organisms earn their resistance to the best drugs we can throw at them; it is particularly prevalent in intensive-care units, lurking among those moist places where medical equipment enters the body, such as catheters and breathing tubes.

To put it another way, Acinetobacter baumannii is not a “wild” superbug. It is a thoroughly domesticated superbug, inadvertently trained and evolved by us, living alongside us in a terrible synergy, and thriving on the spoils of war, aging, disease, and the failure to implement proper infection controls.

Beyond misleading shaggy dog-poop stories from Pentagon spokespeople, the source of this problem in journalism may be tragically mundane. Acinetobacter in general — that is, not baumannii — is one of the largest and most diverse genera of bacteria on the planet, comprising more than 30 distinct species, including Acinetobacter baylyi and Acinetobacter haemolyticus. Right up at the top of the Wikipedia entry for Acinetobacter, Googling journalists on deadline are informed that the bacteria is an “important soil organism.” While that’s true of some members of the genus, it’s not true of the species causing these infections. You have to get down in the fine print to realize that A. baumannii — the evolutionary sequel — is a whole other kind of beast, native to hospitals, and worthy of its own Wikipedia entry.

This confusion has resulted in hundreds of news stories — and even a fact sheet [PDF link] put out by the Infectious Diseases Society of America — claiming that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in water and soil,” when the scientist who discovered antibiotic resistance in the organism, Lenie Dijkshoorn, a senior researcher at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, told me when I interviewed her for my Wired story, “My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven’t found it. These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals.”

So what’s the big deal?  The big deal is that errors in medical journalism — particularly ones that proliferate everywhere in big media virtually unchallenged — can lead to bad medicine. I felt a chill pass over me when I read a 2006 paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that quoted Major Homer Tien, a Canadian trauma surgeon serving in Afghanistan, saying that because he believed the windblown desert sand carries A. baumannii, “There’s talk of building an antechamber to the hospital, so you’d have a double set of doors, to help keep the sand out.”

In any health-care setting, infection-control resources are stretched thin. Hospitals — on the front lines or back home — simply cannot afford this kind of confusion. Every news story that echoes the false claim that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in soil and water” is part of the problem.

A citizen journalist named Marcie Hascall Clark — the wife of a contractor who picked up the bacteria in a hospital after being wounded in Baghdad — has been sounding the alarm for years, a voice in the online wilderness. By 2007, when I wrote my Wired story, many physicians in the military had already figured out what was really going on, and were starting to implement strict protocols — including rebuilding the field hospitals, increasing disease surveillance, and isolating infected and colonized patients — to minimize colonization and new infections among wounded troops. The US medical establishment and smart science bloggers like Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, have also awakened to the growing threat of this particularly nasty and adaptive organism. “In the all-star annals of resistant bugs,” McKenna wrote in June, “A. baumannii is an underappreciated player.”

Much of the media, however — from America to Japan — has yet to catch up.

Posted in Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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