Judge says convoy lawsuits against KBR can go to trial
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 9, 2010
Lawsuits claiming Houston-based KBR should have stopped a 2004 truck convoy in Iraq before six civilian drivers were killed and others were wounded in an ambush can go to trial, a federal judge ruled on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller had previously dismissed the case, agreeing with KBR’s argument that it didn’t have the authority to keep the fuel convoys off the road and that a trial would be an improper challenge to military decision-making. KBR contracts with the military to provide logistical support.
But after an appeals court overturned his decision, Miller allowed the parties to gather more evidence, which turned up e-mails of KBR managers saying they thought they could stop the convoys and had done so in the past.
Miller said the added information was central to his decision that allowing the trial would not second-guess the military in violation of the political question doctrine — the legal principle that some issues are the province of the elected branches of government and not the federal courts.
“If anything, the record makes it clear that although the political question doctrine lurks just around the corner, it can be extricated from the plaintiffs’ claims against the defendants,” Miller wrote.
KBR said it will appeal the ruling.
The case centers on an April 2004 attack on a KBR convoy of supply trucks in Iraq that killed six civilian truck drivers and wounded 14.