Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Woman awarded $3M in assault claim against KBR

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 19, 2009

The Associated Press

Updated

y JUAN A. LOZANO (AP) – 54 minutes ago

HOUSTON — A woman who claimed she was raped in 2005 while working in Iraq for a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary has been awarded nearly $3 million by an arbitrator to settle her case.

Tracy Barker had sued U.S. contractor KBR Inc, its former parent company Halliburton and several affiliates in May 2007, claiming she was sexually attacked by a State Department employee while working as a civilian contractor in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

A federal judge in Houston had dismissed Barker’s lawsuit in January 2008, ruling she had to abide by an employment agreement she signed that said any claims she made against the companies would have to be settled through arbitration and not the courts.

Court records filed this week show Barker was awarded a judgment of $2.93 million to settle her arbitration claim against KBR.

The Associated Press doesn’t usually identify those who report they were sexually assaulted, but Barker made her identity public in her lawsuit.

In a statement, Houston-based KBR said Thursday it disagreed with the interim ruling from the arbitrator and it has filed a motion to modify the award.

“However, the decision validates what KBR has maintained all along; that the arbitration process is truly neutral and works in the best interest of the parties involved,” the statement said.

Barker’s attorney did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

In her lawsuit, Barker had claimed while working in the companies’ procurement department in Baghdad, she was housed in mostly male barracks and consistently subjected to sexually explicit comments and verbal and physical threats of abuse. Barker claimed she and other employees complained to the companies but they did nothing and instead retaliated against her.

Barker was later transferred to Basra, where she claimed that in June 2005, she was raped in her room by the State Department employee, who she also sued. That case was transferred to federal court in Virginia, where it was formally settled last week. Details of the settlement were not made public.

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, in dismissing the lawsuit against KBR, said that until Congress tells courts that binding contracts to arbitrate do not include sexual harassment claims, Barker’s claims had to be arbitrated.

Last month, the Senate approved a measure prohibiting the Defense Department from contracting with companies that require employees to resolve sexual assault allegations and other claims through arbitration.

The amendment was attached to a larger defense spending bill. A vote on the full bill was expected later.

In September, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that a similar lawsuit filed by another ex-contract worker, Jamie Leigh Jones, could go to court in Houston instead of arbitration.

Jones filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 claiming she was raped by Halliburton and KBR firefighters while working at Camp Hope, Baghdad, in 2005.

Jones has also made her identity public in her lawsuit and her face and name have been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.

HOUSTON — An arbitrator has awarded a woman nearly $3 million to settle her claims that she was raped in Iraq by a State Department employee in 2005 while working for a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary.

Court records filed this week show Tracy Barker was awarded $2.93 million to settle her claim against military contractor KBR Inc.

Barker had sued Houston-based Halliburton and its former KBR subsidiary in May 2007, alleging she was sexually attacked while working as a civilian contractor in Basra, Iraq.

The Associated Press doesn’t usually identify those who report they were sexually assaulted, but Barker made her identity public in her lawsuit.

3 Responses to “Woman awarded $3M in assault claim against KBR”

  1. crazedchef said

    I bet Jamie Leigh Jones wishes she had used an arbitrator now!

    I am not in denying that rape or sexual assault is in any way not a horrible criminal act, but I have to wonder about all of these guys who were killed and maimed horribly who cannot even get artificial limbs when they need one. What about the wives and families that are left destitute!

    How do they feel about this woman getting almost $3 mill for an assault that she has physically healed from? I am not saying that she has not received any psychological trauma, just that physically she did not have an arm, leg, eye, etc…blown off.

    I wish justice would come to all of those people with serious physical injuries (including myself) who are still waiting, and waiting…….

    • defensebaseactcomp said

      Bet all of us who are being denied benefits stopped breathing for just bit when we read that.

      It’s hard to imagine someone getting that much while we’re getting nothing but doubt that any of us would deny she deserves it.
      Unfortunately BINDING ARBITRATION is evidently no more BINDING than the administrative law system we are being held captive by.

      Tracy is still fighting KBR.

      Corporations continue to win over the taxpayer.

  2. Krash said

    While I can understand what these women have gone through, I don’t think that a monetary settlement is going to help them deal with the fact that their attackers are still walking around free. Arbitration may be fine for some things but a felony crime?? These men now know that they can get away with just a slap on the hands and the companies will pay to keep them out of the regular judicial system.

    Plus we now know that KBR will pay to keep their name out of the regular judicial system, while the injured, who are also bound by the arbitration regulations and the insurance regulations, will still have to continue to play the red tape game.

    Maybe the injured contractors should start filing civil lawsuits in order to get their injury claims expedited. Just a thought.

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