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Archive for May, 2009

A Brutal Interpretation

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 29, 2009

2005-LDA-00069

TITAN CORPORATION Employer and 

INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PA/AIG WORLD SOURCE

 

Appearances: Karl Bender, Esquire On behalf of Claimant

Roger A. Levy, Esquire On behalf of Employer/Carrier

Before: JANICE K. BULLARD Administrative Law Judge

A Brutal Interpretation

By Peter Rousmaniere

`The following are important excepts from a very good post that you should read completely at the link above.

Taha had the good fortune of speaking English. When a chance arose in May to translate for the occupying troops, he grabbed it.  And why not, when he could thereby earn $10 a day, over double his pay for driving a car? What difference did it make that American translators, working the same job, were earning $80,000, or 30 times his wages?Barely one month into his work for the Army, a bomb on July 22, 2003, tore off his legs. The Army medical corps stabilized him then flew him to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

 

Now to the claim:

She (Janice Bullard) dove into the Longshore Act and surfaced with this phrase between her teeth: The “average annual earnings” used to calculate Taha’s income loss had to align with that of “other employees of the same or most similar class working in the same or most similar employment in the same or neighboring locality.” All the parties in the suit agreed that Taha’s work was identical to those of Americans earning vastly more than him. Notwithstanding that, the judge found that Taha’s “similar class” comprised Iraqi nationals, even though Taha never had the opportunity to work at the income level of American colleagues.

“Accordingly,” the judge wrote, “I find that the most reasonable measurement of claimant’s age-earning capacity at the time of his injury was his actual wages of $10 per day.” She affirmed AIG’s weekly payment of $46.15, even as AIG continued to pay Taha’s wife about $850 a week to care for him.

 

PETER ROUSMANIERE is an expert on the workers’ compensation industry.

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Remember Them, Too

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 25, 2009

Don’t Contractors Count When We Calculate the Costs of War?Contractor Casket

  An Arlington National Cemetery caisson carries the body of retired Air Force Col. Michael W. Butler, who was killed while working as a private contractor in Iraq. (2007 Photo By Charles Dharapak — Associated Press)

By Steven Schooner

Monday, May 25, 2009

Despite the light that Memorial Day will shine, briefly, on the U.S. death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t expect an accurate accounting of the real human cost of our military actions abroad. The numbers you’ll see — mostly likely just under 5,000 fatalities — won’t tell the whole story.

As of June 2008 (the most recent reliable numbers available publicly), more than 1,350 civilian contractor personnel had died in Iraq and Afghanistan supporting our efforts. About 29,000 contractors had been injured, more than 8,300 seriously.

But don’t expect President Obama to remember or thank the contractor personnel who died supporting our troops or diplomatic missions. Instead, expect to see contractor personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be portrayed as expendable profiteers, adventure seekers or marginalized members of society who are not entitled to the same respect or value given to members of the military.

That portrayal, of course, is neither accurate nor fair. Most contractors perform tasks that a generation ago would have been done by uniformed service members. A significant number of these contractors are former members of the military who believe they’re answering the same call they would have answered had the crisis arisen while they were on active duty.

Many of the victims are Iraqis and other foreign nationals working under U.S. government contracts. But whether or not they are U.S. citizens, the central fact remains: If our military was less dependent on contractors, these fatalities probably would have been of uniformed service members

An honest, accurate tally is important because the public — and, for that matter, Congress — does not grasp the level of the military’s reliance on contractors in the battle area, nor the extent of these contractors’ sacrifices. Simply put, the contemporary, heavily outsourced U.S. military cannot effectively fight or sustain itself without a significant, if not unprecedented, presence of embedded contractors. In Iraq, our contractor-to-troop ratio has exceeded 1 to 1. The State Department admitted last summer that it could not remain in Iraq without heavy reliance on private security.

An accurate tally is critical to any discussion of the costs and benefits of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. War proponents benefit from the massive contractor presence because it permits them to suggest that our military presence is smaller than what is actually required. And to the extent that the public cares about military fatalities, the human cost of our efforts in Iraq appears much smaller than it would if we didn’t rely so heavily on contractors.

In 2006 and 2007, the contractor death rate climbed dramatically. After much smaller numbers during the first three years of the Iraq war, at least 301 civilian contractors died in 2006. At least 353 civilian contractors died in Iraq in 2007, while 901 U.S. military personnel died there. In other words, in 2007, contractors accounted for more than one in four deaths associated with the U.S. occupation.

If anything, the number of contractor deaths is understated. Last year, for the first time, Congress began to require the Pentagon, the State Department and the Agency for International Development to keep track of how many contractors are working in Iraq and Afghanistan and how many have been killed and wounded. The Defense Department recently conceded that it is trying but is not yet up to the task.

The Labor Department generates but does not publish data quarterly on contractor deaths, but only because insurance claims are filed with its Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation. (American contractors are required to provide Defense Base Act insurance, which falls under that program.) If a contractor’s family or employer does not seek insurance compensation, that death isn’t counted. There’s no doubt that the allied death toll is significantly higher than reported and that contractors bear a far greater burden in this regard than the public appreciates.

In a representative democracy, public awareness of the human cost of our engagements abroad is critical. If we’re going to tally the human cost of our efforts, the public deserves a full accounting.

The writer, a retired Army Reserve judge advocate, is co-director of the Government Procurement Law program at George Washington University. He was a White House procurement policy official from 1996 to 1998. He published an academic article, “Why Contractor Fatalities Matter,” in the Autumn 2008 issue of the Army War College’s quarterly journal, Parameters.

Why Contractor Casualties Matter

 

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Pentagon’s IG to Examine AIG Insurance Provided to Private Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 21, 2009

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN  !!

Pentagon’s IG to Examine AIG Insurance Provided to Private Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – May 21, 2009

The Defense Department’s inspector general [1] is preparing a possible audit to examine allegations that inadequate oversight by federal officials allowed AIG and other major carriers to deny medical benefits due civilian contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The examination, undertaken in response to a request [2] (PDF) by Sen. Bernie Sanders [3] (I-VT), comes after a joint investigation [4] by the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and ProPublica found that AIG and other carriers denied nearly half of claims for serious injuries to contractors working overseas.

“We are currently examining the information provided in your correspondence,” wrote John R. Crane, the assistant inspector general, in a letter to Sanders earlier this month [5] (PDF). “We will provide you the results of that examination and our course of action in the matter as soon as possible.”

IG officials met with Senate staff last week to hammer out details of the proposed audit, according to people familiar with the matter. “We’re in the preliminary stages. It’s fact-finding stuff,” said an IG official, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

At issue is a federally mandated system that requires government contractors to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for overseas civilians. AIG [6] is the largest provider of such insurance, which is required under a World War II-era law known as the Defense Base Act [7]. Taxpayers pay premiums for the insurance, which is included in the price of federal contracts.

So far, AIG and three other carriers have earned more than $1.5 billion in premiums while paying out only about $900 million in benefits, according to a congressional report [8] (PDF) last year — a far higher profit margin than workers’ compensation programs in the United States. AIG declined to comment.

One of the problems with the system, the joint investigation found, is that no single agency is responsible for overseeing it. The Labor Department administers payments made to contractors, but the Defense Department pays most of the premiums.

This bifurcation actually makes the acting Defense Department inspector general, Gordon Heddell [9], especially well qualified to look into the matter. While awaiting Senate confirmation, he’s still doing his old job: inspector general for the Labor Department [10].

The IG’s office joins the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee [11] and a panel [12] of the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform in looking into the overall program. Earlier this month, the IG issued a report [13] (PDF) that found that military medical facilities were failing to recoup millions of dollars in costs from AIG and other carriers for care provided to injured contractors. So far, more than 1,400 contractors have died in Iraq, and another 31,000 have been injured.

A Hill staffer who has followed the issue said several agencies have indicated that the system has serious flaws. The Government Accountabilty Office [14] (PDF) and the Congressional Research Service [15] (PDF) have criticized the system, which has gone largely unchanged since the 1940s. “Everybody says this is broken,” the staffer said. “We need major changes to fix this.”

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AIG and This AIG Attorney can’t take the Truth

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 19, 2009

Looks like AIG and their defense attorney went whining to Craigs list to have the not so flattering posts about them removed.

We still know that  This AIG Attorney makes his very good living off the backs of injured war zone contractors and their families who have lost their homes, their livelyhoods, and too often their lives at his and AIG’s behest..

We still know what his tactics are,  who his Fab Four DME docs are, and which DBA Attorneys go along with him at the expense of their clients.

It’s all in the emails, Dick.

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The DBA X Files: Unravelling the mysteries of the abducted PTSD cases

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 19, 2009

Thanks to American Contractors In Iraq for hosting the DBA X Files series

The first episode

Unravelling the mysteries of the abducted PTSD cases

has just gone online   www.americancontractorsiniraq.org/XFiles.html

The ALJ’s and DME’s come up with the  MOST BIZZARRE ideas and rulings !!

The Department of Labor should be humiliated for allowing this science fiction to ruin peoples lives.

Check out the site for the FACT CHECKS.

Preview:

Killer Robes

The administrative law trials of civilian war contractors with psychiatric injuries are reminiscent of the Salem witch trials 400 years ago.

Over half of the PTSD or mental injury cases arising from the Iraq and  Afghanistan wars have been denied or inadequately awarded by the Labor Departments  Administrative Law Judges in the 38 decisions issued since 2006.

No less that ten of the 17 denied cases involved insurance psychiatrist Dr John Dorland Griffith, who doubts if PTSD is a valid condition.

Two judges are responsible for almost 60% of all denied claims.

Even more astonishing is the impossibly low number of PTSD claims filed.

At last count, there were 303 PTSD claims filed by civilian contractors who outnumber troops in the war zones, and have outnumbered them for the last five years.

There have been roughly 300,000 cases of PTSD reported among the soldiers.

The chilling effect of these vicious and often ludicrous court proceedings on claimants and their lawyers is undeniable.

The end result:

Thousands of people suffering from a potentially fatal mental disorder receive no treatment or compensation for PTSD.

The DBA X Files

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Suicide from PTSD not compensible?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 15, 2009

It does not state anywhere in the LHWCA or the DBA that suicide from PTSD is not compensible.

PTSD is the injury.  The cause is exposure in the war zone.  Death is the result.

The theory that PTSD cannot be proven post mortem has clearly been blown out of the water in every other venue outside of the Department of Labor.

First AIG and CNA will try to prove that the contractor’s state of mind had nothing to do with working in the war zone.

They generally go after the claimants wife and try to show that she has somehow made this contractor so miserable that he no longer wanted to live.    Either the wife is accused of cheating on her husband, or the deceased husband is accused of cheating on his wife.   The stepchild may be accused of causing this state of mind.  These cases read like trash television, and are likely just as badly plotted.

Co workers are called on for depostions in which they state that working in the war zone is not dangerous.  In one case a coworker was sent to the families home to try to convince the wife that working in Iraq was not dangerous in 2003.  No bombs going off in Baghdad, no insurgents lying in wait for convoys to come by, no snipers, no kidnappings, no beheadings, no UN buildings being blown up, no mortar rounds landing in the green zone.  Really, it was safe.

Have we not gotten past the lies that  promoted the notion that it was safe to work in Iraq, ever?

Even if the contractor were having stressful  issues in theirs lives as so many of us do it has been proven that additional stress such as that of working in the war zones could be the trigger, the cause, that sets this injury off.

AIG, CNA, with the approval of the Department of Labor drag these claims out, drag these families throught the mud.

On top of losing their husbands and fathers, these families lose their homes, their finances, they lose everything else.

As long as they can keep a successful claim for death by PTSD out of the public record it is well worth their while to deny treatment and compensation to hundreds of other contractors injured with PTSD for five years or more.

When these injured contractors snap and kill themselves, maybe take someone else with them, they no longer have a claim to pay.

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This AIG Attorney part 2

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 15, 2009

Thanks to Morale Majority  for the heads up on this.

This is a Craig’s List post, someone else’s opinion, just passing it along

Injured contractors and their attorneys should note this clip from the post:

“His trial tactic’s as explained recently at a legal seminar are to be nice and friendly during a deposition with an injured american contractor trying to obtain basic health care for their injuries suffered overseas and then while at trial to be nasty, mean and aggressive. ”

Who’d of figured?

This AIG Attorney (New York) part 2

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Independent Medical Examinations under the Defense Base Act

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 13, 2009

There is a provision under the Defense Base Act  for Independent Medical Examinations as well as procedure to be followed.  

907  Medical Services and Supplies  scroll down to  907 e

http://www.dol.gov/esa/owcp/dlhwc/lspm/lspm5-400.htm

In the event that medical questions are raised in any case, the Secretary shall have the power to cause the employee to be examined by a physician employed or selected by the Secretary and to obtain from such physician a report containing his estimate of the employee’s physical impairment and such other information as may be appropriate. Any party who is dissatisfied with such report may request a review or reexamination of the employee by one or more different physicians employed or selected by the Secretary. The Secretary shall order such review or reexamination unless he finds that it is clearly unwarranted. Such review or reexamination shall be completed within two weeks from the date ordered unless the Secretary finds that because of extraordinary circumstances a longer period is required. The Secretary shall have the power in his discretion to charge the cost of examination or review under this subsection to the employer, if he is a self-insurer, or to the insurance company which is carrying the risk, in appropriate cases, or to the special fund in section 944 of this title. These  may be ordered by the Administrative Law Judge or the Secretary of the Department of Labor if they determine that one is needed to clarify an injured workers medical status.

When and if this situation arises it the ALJ or DoL (DD District Director) who chooses the doctor for the IME, not the defense lawyer or the insurance company.

When the defense lawyer and the insurance company bully you into seeing a doctor of their choice it is called aDME,  Defense Medical Examination.  

 How many injured war zone contractors were bullied into seeing these insurance companies hired guns?

How many of you lost your case due to testimony by one of them ?

How much money has the taxpayer paid to reimburse these high dollar whores?

Why are the claimants lawyers going along with this?

Most of all, why has the Department of Labor bore witness to this in silence?

.

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Senate Hearing on AIG Care for Contractors Injured in Iraq Postponed Until June

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 12, 2009

Senate Hearing on AIG Care for Contractors Injured in Iraq Postponed Until June

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – May 12, 2009 7:42 am EDT

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Monday that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed until June a hearing on the government’s system of purchasing private insurance to cover contractor injuries and deaths in war zones. The committee, which previously scheduled the hearing [1] for May 21, plans to examine whether the Labor and Defense departments provided adequate oversight of the system, which has channeled billions of dollars to AIG and other major insurance carriers. The hearing follows a joint report by the Los Angeles Times [2], ABC News [3] and ProPublica [4] that AIG and other carriers routinely deny claims for health care for civilian workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. A House Oversight and Government Reform panel is also planning a hearing [5] on the topic this summer.

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This AIG Attorney

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 11, 2009

Thanks to a commentor for this one,  this is a repost from Craigs list, just passing it on, just some one on Craig’s list opinion, not necessarily ours

This AIG Attorney (New York)

Check out the link and let us know if your experience has been the same

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Go Marlo! Media and Congressional Blitz

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 10, 2009

Marlo Hone, wife of a CNA DBA Casualty isn’t stopping until our voices are heard!

She has spent this weekend emailing and faxing the media and congress about the injustices that have been forced upon our DBA Casualties by AIG, CNA, their lawyers, the Department of Labor.

Thanks for spending your Mother’s Day working to help us all.

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Independent Medical Evaluations, AIG and CNA

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 9, 2009

For clarification of when an IME is called for  :  Independent Medical Evaluations under the Defense Base Act

According to the Defense Base Act,  the employer carrier may request that the employee be examined by a doctor that they choose.  They may do this for each injury being claimed.

This is called a Defense Medical Examination .   It will often be referred to as an Independent Medical Examination though there is normally nothing Independent about it.

It is their preference to hire doctors who do this for a living.  The are called Independent Medical Examiners though they are nothing of the sort.   There are even companies  that provide these “services” to insurance companies.  They are paid by the insurance companies to testify against you at your hearing.

From  Your Independent Medical Evaluation ( a must read for the injured contractor)

In theory, IME’s are intended to “clarify” very complex medical restrictions and limitations.

However, in actual practice, the independent medical evaluation is a “risk management” tool

paid for by the disability insurer which “rubber stamps” a future decision to deny your claim.

One Forensic Psychiatrist actually admitted to one of our injured contractors that “no one here is your friend” when questioned about why he should be discussing his life with him.

He was left unattended  (against the protocal) while taking the MMPII and Fake Bad Scale .  A diagnoses of PTSD was denied in direct conflict with his personal psychiatrists diagnoses.

These doctors and services are not always a reasonable distance for the injured contractor.

The injured contractor is not required to  leave their geographic area to see a doctor hired by the insurance company.  If you have been told you had to travel 2 or 3 hours to see one of their doctors when there are plenty of specialists in your area available  why would you do this?  Why should the taxpayer pay for it?

CNA’s lawyers will claim you are being uncooperative if you refuse to travel across the state to see their favorites and request to be seen by one of the dozen or more specialists in your geographic area.

If your lawyer tells you to do this you need to question your lawyer.

Our question is:

Why have some claimants been flown or asked to drive from as far as five states away to see Dr. John Dorland Griffith a “psychiatrist” in Houston on behalf of  AIG ?  Wow, that’s really being cooperative.

How many of you lost your claims based on this doctors testimony?

How many of you have been asked to travel to see AIG’s  fab four in Houston?

And why?

WHY? The biased Department of Labor of ALJ’s think this is reasonable?

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Kucinich Asks AIG Why It’s Denying Claims From Injured Contractors in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 7, 2009

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – May 7, 2009 4:58 pm EDT

kucinich-aig-wdcpix

 

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, fired off an angry letter to AIG. (WDCPIX file photo)Heeding a call [1] from fellow congressman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) announced today that he was planning to hold a hearing in June on whether AIG has routinely blocked medical care [2] for civilian contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Kucinich, chair of the domestic policy panel of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, fired off an angry letter [3] to the company, saying that he was “alarmed” by a joint investigation by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times. The investigation [4] found that the troubled insurance giant routinely denied basic medical care such as psychological counseling and even prosthetic legs for civilians injured in the war zone.

Under a federal law known as the Defense Base Act [5], contractor companies are required to purchase workers compensation insurance for employees deployed to a war zone. AIG dominates the market for such insurance, handling nearly 90 percent of all claims in Iraq. Government audits and inquiries have questioned whether AIG and other carriers charged “excessive [6]” premiums for the insurance. Taxpayers ultimately pay for such insurance as part of the contract price.

“Apparently, AIG is profiting both by charging unreasonably high premiums to contracting firms and by denying or delaying legitimate claims of civilian workers for medical care and other services needed as a result of war zone injuries,” Kucinich wrote [3].

The findings are “all the more disturbing,’’ Kucinich wrote, given that AIG has turned federal supplicant, with promises of almost $70 billion [7] in taxpayer aid to date. “The Subcommittee is interested in obtaining information from AIG shedding light on why there has been such a high rate of denials and unreasonable delays in processing claims, and why it is reaping such huge profits at taxpayers’ expense,” Kucinich wrote.

AIG did not return a request for comment. In the past, the company has said the “vast majority” of claims are paid without dispute “when the proper supporting medical evidence has been received.”

Full Story at Propublica

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Kucinich to probe AIG denial of workers’ compensation claims in Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 7, 2009

Sabrina Eaton/Plain Dealer Washington Bureau

Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich is asking American International Group to provide a subcommittee he chairs with records on its insurance claim procedures following media reports that the insurance giant inappropriately denied and delayed insurance claims from civilian contractors killed or injured in Iraq.

“Apparently, AIG is profiting both by charging unreasonably high premiums to contracting firms and denying or delaying legitimate claims of civilian workers for medical care and other services needed as a result of war zone injuries,” Kucinich says in the letter to AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy and others at the company.”These conclusions are all the more disturbing given that AIG has received enormous federal subsidies to prevent insolvency,”

Kucinich has asked AIG to provide his Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee with data on its claims processed since 2002, as well as the profits AIG has earned from premiums, expenses from paying out claims and net underwriting gains under the civilian contractor insurance program.

Original Story here

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Military Fails to Collect From AIG for Care to Injured Contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 7, 2009

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – May 7, 2009

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon has failed to bill American Insurance Group and other major insurance carriers for millions of dollars in medical care provided to private contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new federal report [1] (PDF).

The United States hired hundreds of thousands of civilians to work in the two war zones. When injured on the job, their medical care is supposed to be paid for by private insurance companies, primarily AIG.

The audit by the Pentagon’s Inspector General [1] concludes that the military frequently failed to demand reimbursement when it treated injured contractors and the increased costs burdened front-line hospitals, cutting into resources that would otherwise be used to care for injured soldiers.

In one example, the main military hospital in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Base reported that one-third of all patients treated by military doctors were civilian contractors. This created an overwhelming burden for staff dedicated to delivering emergency care to wounded soldiers, the report said.

The auditors found that no single Defense Department agency is responsible for keeping track of costs, despite regulations requiring contractors to reimburse the government when their employees are treated at military installations.

Read the entire story here

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