Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Texas District Court Rules Iraq War Not Life Threatening

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 7, 2009


US district judge Melinda Harmon finally issued a decision in the Eysselinck case on 12 November ruling that “there was insufficient proof to the symptoms of PTSD because

1) the decedent had not been exposed personally to life-threatening events and

2) had not been diagnosed with PTSD prior to his suicide.

See also Casualties not Counted

There is more absurdity where that came from:

‘For example, the Magistrate Judge reviewed the ALJ’s supporting evidence for the lack of proof of PTSD such as

1) the lack of life-threatening events experienced by decedent and

2) the fact decedent did not receive any psychiatric examination before his suicide.’

There is really no point in arguing with anyone so far removed from reality as to make a judicial finding that seven months of exposure to a war zone is not life threatening.

It’s almost comical coming from people who live such a sheltered and privileged life.

But what is genuinely frightening is the fact that Harmon is the fourth civilian judge who endorsed this lunacy over the past five years and that she is a district court judge, not a mere administrative judge or magistrate dealing with misdemeanors.

This willfully obtuse ruling is the latest outrage in a concerted campaign to deny civilian contractors their rights under the Defense Base Act and pass off the costs and burden of war to injured civilians and their survivors.  The ramifications are many more needless deaths, violence and suffering for as many as 600,000 contractors returning from the war zones with mental and neurological injuries.

Is this a miscarriage of justice or rather a fair reflection of what society has come to believe, that going to war is much like playing a video game, coupled with the dismissive attitude of  ‘since I won’t ever have to go anyhow, who gives a damn?’

Judge Harmon hauled out a 1935 Supreme Court ruling (Del Vecchio v. Bowers) to further scale down the presumption in the Act [(d) that the injury was not occasioned by the willful intention of the injured employee to injure or kill himself or another].
The concepts of wrongful death, duty of care and criminal negligence have now been abandoned and death has become a clear legal advantage for the insurance industry since dead men can’t talk.  Have any misgivings yet?
The voluminous nonsense from Dr Carroll Brodsky (age 83), who had always testified against claimants and who repeatedly assured the ALJ that the onset of PTSD symptoms are immediately after the trauma does not constitute “competent evidence”.

It constitutes a felony, namely perjury and obstruction of justice not only tolerated by this judge, but also touted as “expert testimony”.  PTSD was only officially recognized in the DSM III in 1980.

She also ruled that neither the benefit review board nor the district court can reweigh or reappraise the evidence, in other words the ALJ (administrative law judge) is always 100% right, like some infallible deity.

All the ALJ needs is the deposition of one or two former deputy coworkers (eager to be promoted) that there was NO security threat in Iraq (Aug 2003 – Feb 2004), only bandits but not insurgents, to trump the overwhelming objective evidence to the contrary.

This includes work reports, media reports, company directives and the military’s own threat assessments, much of which is readily available on the public record.

Universally acknowledged truths and plain common sense are suddenly dead wrong.  The earth is flat again and seven months in the war zone is no longer life threatening, even when you have a price on you head.  Despite irrefutable proof in the record that Iraqi section leaders resigned because there was a price on their head, drawing the logical conclusion that the head of their American task leader would earn an even bigger price is too difficult for the robes to grasp.

Perhaps a trip to Dover air force base would convince them, but then again don’t count on it.

Not exposed to life threatening events?

Is this a sadistic sick joke just for the fun of dragging a devastated family through five years of vicious court battles?

Everyone knows that Mike Hartling (who replaced Tim Eysselinck) and Brandt Marshall  told a pack of transparent lies about Tim’s activities and threat exposure to the court, easily disproved if anyone had bothered to ask us or his Iraqi trainees or soldiers stationed at Taji or in the Green Zone.

We all know that he was out at the work sites almost daily; that he participated in clearance operations of live munitions and demolitions of mega-bombs and took the pictures.

Mike Hartling who falsely claimed clearance operations only started in March 2004) also kept quiet about events on the road trip from Baghdad to Amman in mid-December 2003.

Brandt Marshall concealed the truth about the deadly UN headquarters explosion in August 2003 during a demining press conference.  Their self-serving lies have seriously undermined every case of civilian contractors seeking treatment because the burden of proof re threat exposure has now become almost impossible to meet with this inane legal precedent.

Note to contractors:  Do NOT obey your non-disclosure statements, tell your family and get proof of injuries and traumatic events before they bribe your coworkers to deny what happened or change the paperwork, there are many such cases in the court files.

We have long ago come to understand that the government and judiciary view civilian contractors as disposable war mules but kindly spare us this pretense of justice and due process in the future.

We can really do without all the insults added to injury with blatant falsehoods endorsed as fact.

It seems the higher up the chain of justice one goes the more bizarre, biased and irrational the rulings become, misstating evidence in the record, disregarding favorable findings of fact (airplane incident; impulsive act, irrational decision etc.) disregarding the law (special zone of danger doctrine; section 20 presumptions) and just ignoring most important legal and factual points raised as “de minimis” – not worthy of the court’s time.

If the government doesn’t want to pay measly death benefits to the survivors of warriors any longer then at least have the decency to say so in plain language from the start; no need to breach our contracts and go waste everyone’s time, energy and money on these legal charades.

But most of all spare us your mind-boggling lies: war is inherently life threatening no matter what spin you try put on it. It’s self-evident that handling or just being in close proximity to unexploded ordinance in a war zone is especially life threatening, even when done occasionally.

While the government bails out the corporations who fight our claims with billions of dollars and grants them obscene profit margins (up to 500%) on our labor, the orphans of those who made the ultimate sacrifice get nothing at all. Let them eat cake; and foist your blame onto them to boot.

War after all is a cakewalk, at least according to these modern-day Marie Antoinettes.

The courts may be too busy to do justice and deem the preventable deaths of civilian contractors unworthy of their precious time but let the facts speak for themselves. These are just some of the exhibits the courts refuse to consider, just ask if you need more to make up our mind.
The jury is out, and those who actually spent time in a war zone decide if Tim Eysselinck was exposed to life-threatening events in Iraq or not. You decide if the corporations and insurance companies should be rewarded for failing to diagnose and treat their workers for the signature wounds of the war (PTSD, depression and TBI) that caused this tragedy in the first place.

Lets put a stop to the dishonoring of his memory, his sacrifice and life-long service to his country right here and now.

We are at the mercy of judges who have forsaken the sacred trust of fairness and objectivity, who cover up the truth and openly mock us, disparage our work with barely concealed contempt. Never again should this kind of travesty be allowed to happen with our silent complicity.

Let’s publish and be damned.

The Eysslinck case in it’s entirety with corresponding documents will be published here in it’s own forum over the next few days.

The original case can be found at the DBA X Files

17 Responses to “Texas District Court Rules Iraq War Not Life Threatening”

  1. […] (automatically generated)The Shadow Army Awaits DeploymentIraq Troops PTSD Rate as High as 35%Texas District Court Rules Iraq War Not Life ThreateningA Surge of […]

  2. widow in California said

    This sickens me that the “lack of common sense” sits on such a high seat to pass judgement. My heart is with the Eysslinck family. The fight is not over and I do believe justice will be served.

  3. Marlo Hone said

    You have got to be kidding me. Okay I will try and get this out to the local papers and news around Austin. I am sure they will find this story sick and disturbing. I know I do. I know I have been quiet lately because of the holidays and being sick. I am about to start making noise around here.

  4. dante said

    My heart goes out to you too, widow in California, because I know what this diabolical cabal has in store for you and everyone associated with you for merely daring to claim what is legally due to you and yours.

    On the subject of life threatening, the little dirty secret is that RONCO never even bothered changing its name after arming and training Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets some 20 -15 years earlier.

    Tim Eysselinck and his team were, unbeknown to them, FAIR GAME, and yet RONCO honchos insisted on disarming them when they knew very well that the enemy knew exactly who their employees were. Hence the price on their heads:

    This program, run from 1985 to 1994, smuggled aid from Pakistan into “liberated [mujahideen controlled] regions” of Afghanistan. RONCO’s $31 million contract was to operate the procurement and logistical pipeline for the whole Cross-Border Humanitarian Assistance Program. Smuggling supplies from Pakistan over the mountains to Afghanistan was a complex logistical problem, so RONCO and its predecessor flew 1850 mules into Pakistan, and distributed them to the mujahideen. The mules, as well as RONCO’s road construction equipment procurement and bridge building technical assistance, were officially for humanitarian purposes. However, they also were enormously important in facilitating the movement of arms. USAID and its contractors were the only US citizens in constant direct contact with the mujahideen.

    Not life threatening? what are they smoking?
    Looks more like attempted negligent homicide to me at the very minimum, but we all know that justice is AWOL when it comes to civilian contractors.

    PS. Negligent homicide is a criminal charge brought against people who, through criminal negligence, allow others to die.

  5. Brit Guy said

    Let us take sympathy with the family involved as this is a true travesty of justice. Someone who lives a privileged life because brave men and women are prepared to sacrifice all to allow them to live this life style makes such a ludicrous ruling.
    However let us all be aware that our battle for what is legally ours is going to be harder. This may be a victory for the insurers but it is also a defeat surly.
    If war is not hazardous then they will not be able to claim what they pay out as they will no longer be covered under the War Hazards Compensation Act. The reason I say this is if a judge rules war it is not hazardous by definition then the War Hazard Compensation Act no longer exists surly.

  6. daffodils said

    Very good question.
    The DBA lawyers (there were only about five of them in the entire country in 2004) don’t want to file claims under the War Hazards Act because there is no mechanism for them to get paid for their services.

    They rather lose half their DBA cases and churn them out like a sausage factory by taking on far too many claims with sloppy lawyering than having to chase after claimants for fees. They still make a grand living with this wartime contracting windfall, at least this is what I was told. This is an obscure little clique, most of them are far too cozy with the so-called defense DBA lawyers, and the judges too.

    The insurance companies just had to be bailed out to the tune of 150 billion for AIG alone because of their stupidity and recklessness. They don’t think that far ahead, only until their next bonus, and the DBA insurance racket grants them unbelievable of profits in the range of 50% (Waxman oversight committee).

    If they have to pay for mental injuries which make up over 90% of projected claims they would make reaonable profit margins (up to 5%) which they obviously don’t want to do. Its much easier “tricking” the judges and screwing those “mercenary” contractors.
    You are right though, in the end they are killing the goose because the DOD may just decide to cut them out altogether and do it themselves along VA lines.

  7. defensebaseactcomp said

    To clarify the War Hazards Act, it applies to DBA claims after they have been decided. The insurance company then submits the War Hazards related claims to be reimbursed.
    Jacob Shisha once wrote a small blurb regarding the Dark Side of the War Hazards Act which stated that:
    The dark side of having the cases reimbursed under the
    War Hazards Act, is that once a determination is made that the claim will fall under the WHA the claim is transferred over to a government bureaucracy, and is no longer handled by the OWCP.
    This is a tremendous problem with regards to non-death claims.It is very difficult for an injured worker to deal with
    this large bureaucracy, if compensation payments are late or terminated, or necessary medical treatment is not being
    authorized, there is very little that can be done.
    There is noDepartment of Labor claims examiner to assist
    him, and it is doubtful that any attorney would take the case, because there is no mechanism for the attorneys to be paid for their time and effort.
    This statement was disputed by another attorney but think the jury is still out on this.
    Getting a straight answer on anything to do with the DBA is nearly impossible.
    Likely there are no straight answers.
    The entire system appears to be “crooked” from top to bottom

  8. daffodils said

    Found this on LexisNexis, strange how the truth in the end will come out:

    Longshore Act & Defense Base Act
    11/22/2009 10:42:34 PM EST
    Civilian Defense Worker’s Suicide in Iraq Not Caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    Posted by Thomas A. Robinson

    Perhaps we have a diferent version of the decision but it seems to me that the district court judge admitted that the magistrate judge misstated the evidence regarding depression. Page 3: Admittedly, it appears from from Dr Sieberhagen”s deposition that he felt that depression was present simultaneously with PTSD. At every level of this case the clear evidence in the record is misstated, and prior errors of fact and law corrected just to add another one. The finding that a man who spent seven months in the Iraq war in charge of dismantling cluster bombs was not exposed to life-threatning events is ludicrous on its face.

    Create an account or login to post comments.

    dbacomp 12/3/2009 10:15:08 AM subject: response to war mules
    My husband was critically injured working for the same company in the same area just one month prior to Mr. Eysslincks assignment there. His injuries were a direct result of the badly deteriorated security situation and being expected to work without security of any kind. Soldiers were kidnapped, killed, sniped by insurgents. They awoke in the Green Zone to bullet holes in their tents and parked vehicles. They were shot at by the US Army. Just days before he was injured, and at the recommendation of the military, he had requested to be armed. Where, outside of this administrative law system, would anyone be able to get away with claiming that the security situation in Iraq improved between July of 2003 and February of 2004. The world watched Baghdad deteriorate before their eyes on television.

  9. dante said

    Stop right now messing with my computer via the server, I will just up the ante, you depraved bunch will never ever bury Tim the way you actually did. This blog may seem like a mickey-mouse forum to you but do not underestimate us:

    Though structurally separate from the CIA, the CBHA also functioned as surveillance. USAID and its contractors were the only US citizens in constant direct
    contact with the mujahideen (Crile 2004, p. 373). Local RONCO monitors traveled into Afghanistan with humanitarian conveys and were described as the “eyes and ears of USAID” (RONCO 1990, p. 15 & 1994, p. 16). Reports from USAID contractors like
    RONCO soon became “an invaluable new and reliable source of information” for the US government and Crandall was even invited “sit in on the CIA’s war sessions” Said Lohbeck, the USAID and CIA programs “frequently became so intertwined that it was difficult to separate them.

    “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”

  10. […] Texas District Court Rules Iraq War not Life Threatening […]

  11. defensebaseactcomp said

    Apparently USAID/CIA goes by many names these days.
    DAI, State Dept. come to mind today.
    If no one is really who they are, there is no one to take the fall.

  12. […] from his job with a company specializing in the removal of land mines and explosive ordnance. So far, courts have sided with the insurance firm, Chicago-based CNA, in denying Eysselinck’s claim. (CNA declined to comment, citing privacy […]

  13. […] Texas Court Rules Iraq not Life Threatening […]

  14. Namibian scarred said

    What a miscarriage of justice! Why have review courts if they will not review the decisions, testimonies and evidence? Tim was an honorable man, who believed in what his country proclaimed to stand for! He, like others, paid with his life for the lies. Then the justice system – in the pay of the insurance companies? – further scars the families and loved ones left behind.

  15. Workmans Comp…

    […]Texas District Court Rules Iraq War Not Life Threatening « Defense Base Act Compensation Blog[…]…

  16. […] Texas District Court Rules Iraq War Not Life Threatening […]

  17. superman said

    this judge is a Clown, or should I say a puppet for the insurance companies. I am so disheartened from what I see in the United States. I can honestly say I am not proud to be an American with corruption at this level.

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