Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘KBR’

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

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 2, 2012

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNA’s Deadly Paper Games and Outright Lies Condoned by the Department of Labor

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 2, 2012

How do AIG and CNA get away with telling so many lies and paying for so little ?  

They get help from those put in place to “ensure that workers’ compensation benefits are provided promptly and properly” 

The Department of Labor’s Jacksonville Florida District Office Director Charles D Lee, formerly of Liberty Mutual, gave his seal of approval to CNA’s lies by refusing to find them in default of an order that he signed himself.  It took seven years to get this order.

If Mr. Lee does not remember signing this order over two years ago he should.  While he signed the order for medical and indemnity probably without reading it, slapped a form cover letter to it,  he did not bother to determine the amount of back indemnity and interest owed which allowed CNA to not pay on time and escape the 20% per day penalty.   So few penalties apply and so little enforcement of those that do.

It took many telephone calls and finally assistance from Michael Niss, the Director, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs at the time,  to encourage him to do his job.  He was not going to do it just because an injured contractor had not received his check  and was trying to find out why.

The failure on the District Director’s part to find CNA in 18 a Default occurred despite having in his possession legitimate proof, letters from Doctors stating that they had never been approved and had in fact been denied payment.

Proof of CNA lies to the new Claims Examiner, who comes to us from KBR with a KBR attitude, are ignored by everyone in the DoL from herself, Charles D Lee, Kristina Hall, to Eric Richardson, Miranda Chui, to the DOL IG.

CNA never produced a receipt for paying back  years of Medical Care that they were responsible for and refused to provide but Charles D Lee determined that they did so based on their attorney saying  that they did. 

CNA paid for a small fraction of the past medical care, finally, 16 months after the order was signed.  While this is clearly a 16 month default during which time the claimant has this debt hanging over his head despite having an Order in place, CNA is not held responsible.  A receipt has never been produced.  Charles D Lee takes them at their word while their lies are in his hands.

No dollar value is applied to the damages caused by a refusal to provide medical care for years on end and so there is no penalty or recovery.

We talk with contractors everyday who have orders in place for medical that  never receive it. 

The lengthy efforts your attorney must go through to try, not necessarily succeed, to secure the medical care is considered to be “Janitorial” work by CNA that they should not have to pay for.

Why not continue with the Deadly Paper Games when it saves you so much money and the very people that are supposed to be looking out for the claimant condone these criminal actions?

No dollar value is applied to the temporary injuries which become permanent at the hands of CNA.

The hands of CNA, their claims examiners, and their attorneys are so gently stroked by the Departments of Labor’s Jacksonville District Office. 

The Blood is on all of their hands.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Liberty Mutual, Misjudgements, OALJ, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Veterans, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

Wade Dill AIG/KBR PTSD DBA Casualty July 16th, 2006

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 15, 2012

After many years of surviving an extremely abusive and Overly Zealous Defense

Wade Dill’s  family was finally provided death benefits under the Defense Base Act

These benefits were recently taken away by the Benefits Review Board when Attorney Bruce Nicholson, who was actively pursuing a settlement with KBR/AIG’s Attorney Michael Thomas, had a contract with the widow, was an attorney with the Law Firm of Peyman Rahnama, was the attorney of record with the BRB, did not as much as respond to the Appeal.

While Bruce Nicholson is the one who apparently purposely abandoned the claim, Michael Thomas and the BRB were more than happy to carry on without notifying the widow that AIG’s appeal of her claim was unopposed.

The man I married was my prince charming.
We had grown up together.
High school sweethearts, we were married 17 ½ years.
I believe that if he had never gone over there he would still be
here today.
Something happened in Iraq.
He committed suicide the morning of July 16th, 2006
He left behind a lot of pain and two ruined lives.
I never dreamed I would be without him
and
my daughter without a father.

Our thoughts are with you today Barb

Posted in PTSD and TBI, AIG and CNA, KBR, Misjudgements, Department of Labor, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Racketeering, T Christian Miller, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, War Hazards Act, Iraq, Dropping the DBA Ball, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Lawyers, AWOL Medical Records, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Veterans, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Dan Hoagland’s Death Sentence at the hands of AIG’s Overly Zealous Defense

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 4, 2012

Injured War Zone Contractor Dan Hoagland shares his story of medical treatment denied  by KBR/AIG resulting in a death sentence by Cancer with Sean Calleb.

Scott Bloch, Defense Base Act Attorney tells the truth about the Defense Base Act Insurance Scandal and our Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit.

Join our Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit here

Posted in AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

John Kirkland, Civilian Contractor, Fluor, Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 11, 2012

Florida Today  June 8, 2012

American Contractor Killed at Forward Operation Base Salerno

John Kirkland, 55, of Houston, TX, passed away on June 1, 2012, during an attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Son of Jeannine and Gordon, John was born in Atlanta, Georgia on June 16, 1956. He would have been 56 years old on June 16th.

John grew up in Florida, where he lived in Melbourne and Palm Bay. He owned and operated a local stucco business until he moved to Houston in 1998. He lived there before becoming employed in 2006 as a Maintenance Mechanic for KBR, a civilian military contractor.

John’s first job assignment was at a military base located in Iraq in 2006. In May, 2010 he was transferred to a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan named Salerno, where he worked for the civilian military contractor Fluor. He was killed on June 1, 2012 during an attack by the Taliban. His remains will be cremated at Dover Air Force Base.

John is survived by his son, Christopher Ashley Kirkland; and his two brothers, Virgil Eugene Kirkland of Ocala, FL and Douglas Paul Kirkland of Palm Bay, FL; as well as an Aunt and Uncle, Glenda and Eddie McCoy of Mooresville, NC, along with numerous cousins.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Flour, KBR | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 31, 2012

WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?

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

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

WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All’s Fair in Love and AIG WAR? No Ethics ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 14, 2012

Defense Base Act Claimants really are in another War Zone when they must file a DBA Claim.

As it turns out many, too many, of the Plaintiff’s own Attorneys are aiding and abetting the enemy

Last January ALJ  Berlin awarded the Dill Widow DBA Death Benefits in a very important PTSD/Suicide Claim.

This claim was denied for five years while Wade Dill’s  widow Barbara’s integrity was brutally attacked as though she had pulled the trigger herself.

KBR refused to supply Wade Dill’s medical records and other reports which would have exposed the state of mind he was in while still in Iraq.  But it is OK to defy discovery if you are AIG/KBR-SEII.  Do not try this yourself, you’ll lose your claim.

Dennis Nalick was the Attorney who brought this claim to a successful decision. 

Barbara Dill’s next Attorney, Bruce H Nicholson, refused to address misinformation in the records saying “you won the claim why would you want to mess with it”.

Mr Nicholson refuted any suggestion that this very important decision would be appealed.  He went so far as to tell the Widow that she should discontinue corresponding with those who assured her it would be.  Bad people we are, just trying to upset her needlessly.

AIG KBR SEII via Michael Thomas appealed the decision.

Mr Nicholson never responded to the Benefits Review Board on behalf of the Widow though he assured her he was on top of it and he and the widow corresponded regularly.

On February 28 the BRB overturned the ALJ’s decision, unopposed.  The widow was not represented at all.

Mr. Nicholson was though, prior to this decision, negotiating a “settlement” with Michael Thomas and AIG which would take this important PTSD Suicide decision out of this WAR as case law for all impending and future PTSD Suicide claims.  The same Mr Nicholson who posted here at the blog in response to the award:

“The decision represents a sound road map for work related contractor suicide claims and is unlikely to be overturned when followed.”

We ask, is no one in this wretched biased system held to any standard of ethical practice?

Mr Nicholson was responsible for representing the Widow and he did not.

Would it not have been a requirement of those who were involved in this to make the widow aware, to speak up?

We do not kid ourselves that this was simply a case of friendly fire.  There was too much at stake here.

Posted in PTSD and TBI, AIG and CNA, KBR, Misjudgements, Department of Labor, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Political Watch, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Follow the Money, Iraq, Delay, Deny, Dropping the DBA Ball, Defense Medical Examinations, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Lawyers, AWOL Medical Records, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Suicide, Chartis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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 »

Declassified KBR Contract shows how it gets a free pass for Willful Misconduct

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 16, 2011

Craig Malisow at Houston Press December 16, 2011

A KBR government contract protected the company from liability for injuries or deaths caused by willful misconduct, according to recently declassified Army documents.

Although the existence of the clause was revealed as a part of a lawsuit filed in 2009, the actual document remained classified until this week. The contract is a key point in the federal suit, filed in Texas by Houston attorney Mike Doyle on behalf of 136 Indiana, South Carolina and West Virginia National Guardsmen (and British Royal Air Force officers) who were allegedly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals while providing security at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003.

Two Guardsmen have died, seven have developed respiratory system tumors and others are experiencing serious respiratory issues as a result of the exposure, according to the suit. (Doyle is also involved in a sister suit in Oregon, involving 34 Oregon National Guard soldiers.)

The indemnity clause requires the government to cover the cost of litigation against KBR, even if the company (then still a part of Halliburton) was at fault. In the water treatment plant suit, the guardsmen claim they were exposed to a highly toxic chemical called hexavalent chromium, and that KBR lied to the soldiers about the chemical’s presence and any associated health risks.

KBR has denied any wrongdoing.

Approximately 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the chemical while working at the Qarmat Ali facility in 2003, “and many remained unaware of their exposure until 2008,” according to a September 2011 report by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General.

“Contractor recognition of, and response to, the health hazard represented by [the chemical] contamination, once identified at the Qarmat Ali facility, was delayed,” the report states. “The delay occurred because KBR did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required by the contract….”

However, the indemnity clause appears to absolve KBR of any financial liability. This prompted Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer to co-author an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 calling for the Pentagon to notify Congress of future indemnity clauses.

“We already know from what happened at KBR’s Qarmat Ali project that these secret bailout deals are bad for our soldiers and a bad deal for taxpayers, and anything that puts more protections in place is a good step,” Doyle said of the act’s amendment

Please see the original here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Defense Department Inspector General says KBR and the military failed to respond quickly to health risks posed to Oregon soldiers

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 28, 2011

The Oregonian   September 28, 2011

The Defense Department and contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root failed to act as quickly as they should have to protect those exposed to a carcinogenic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003, according to a report Wednesday by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

The report was hailed as a victory for Oregon soldiers by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who was one of a group of senators who sought the IG’s evaluation, and by Oregon National Guard troops who are among those suing KBR. They accuse the contractor of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer.

Because KBR “did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required” under its contract with the Army, the Inspector General found, “a greater number of Service members and DoD civilian employees were exposed to sodium dichromate, and for longer periods, increasing the potential for chronic health effects.”

The report found that “nearly 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the compound in the five months it took from the initial site visit until the military command required personal protective equipment.

Please read more here

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures | 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 »

Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 26, 2011

Today  Injured War Zone Contractors and Scott Bloch filed a

Class Action Lawsuit

against the

Defense Base Act Insurance Companies

and some Employers.

Scott Bloch files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like

KBR, Blackwater/Xe, DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting

and the global insurance carriers

AIG, CNA, ACE, Zurich,

on behalf of thousands of former employees,

for

unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of

injured employees and their families  

Brink Vs. CNA et al

The Defense Base Act Compensation blog and it’s contributors invite you to

Join our Class Action here

The truth will be exposed

WASHINGTON, DC (September 26, 2011)

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public.  The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democractic institutions.  We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights.  This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States.  It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long.  We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”),  as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.   These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
“These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch.  “Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats.  The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment.  These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years.  They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290

Posted in Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Dyncorp, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Ronco Consultilng, State Department, Suicide, Toxic Exposures, USAID, Veterans, Wackenut, War Hazards Act, Whistleblower, Xe, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

 
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