KBR Loses Bid to Throw Out Iraq Convoy Death Cases
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 25, 2010
By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk
March 25 (Bloomberg) — KBR Inc., the largest U.S. military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, lost a bid to throw out claims it sent civilian drivers into a battle zone in Iraq in 2004, knowing they would be attacked and possibly killed.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller dismissed a lawsuit by an injured driver, while allowing claims by the families of seven drivers who were killed to proceed. Miller granted an immediate stay to KBR to appeal his ruling before a trial would be scheduled. Trial had been set for May in federal court in Houston.
KBR, and its former parent, Halliburton Co., urged Miller in November to dismiss the drivers’ claims on legal grounds, including some of the same arguments the judge used to throw out the cases once before in 2006. The cases were revived in 2008, after an appeals court rejected Miller’s ruling that they were too entangled with military decision-making to be tried during wartime.
“The defendants have not shown that as a matter of law that the event was both undesired and unexpected, making it a compensable injury,” Miller said of the claims brought on behalf of drivers killed or injured in two convoys sent out on April 9, 2004.
He dismissed the lawsuit by a driver injured the previous day, finding “the defendants were scrambling to react to attacks they feared, but did not expect.”
Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for Houston-based KBR, said the company would have a response soon.
The cases include Fisher v. Halliburton, 05-CV-01731 and Lane v. Halliburton, 06-CV-01971, and Smith-Idol v. Halliburton, 06-CV-01168, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).