Burn Pits Claims Against KBR and Halliburton can Continue
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 9, 2010
To paraphrase Yogi Berra it’s déjà vu all over again for KBR.
In my Aug. 31 post I wrote about a significant pro-veteran ruling in the Oregon KBR Qarmat Ali litigation. This is the case where Oregon National Guard troops allege KBR’s liability for negligence and for fraud arising out of plaintiffs’ exposure to sodium dichromate and resultanthexavalent chromium poisoning while assigned to duty at the Qarmat Ali water plant in 2003.
Paul Papak, the federal district judge rejected the motion by KBR and co-defendants to dismiss the suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and rejected it.
I noted that the end result was that the “we were just following orders” defense is looking even lamer than ever.
Now it turns out another judge, ruling on another KBR issue, its running of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, has ruled the same way. Sick soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan filed claims against the corporations because of “alleged failures of the military contractors to treat water and dispose of waste in a manner required” by their contract with the US military.
Today federal court judge Roger W. Titus ordered that claims against military contractors, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) and Halliburton, may proceed.
In his 41-page opinion Judge Titus dismissed the jurisdictions of the defendants and is allowing limited discovery to go forward. In its ruling the Court stated, “In tension with the exercise of caution supported by these legal defenses is the legitimate concern that the judiciary may prematurely close courtroom doors to soldiers and civilians injured from wartime logistical activities performed by hired hands allegedly acting contrary to military-defined strictures. Courts must be prepared to adjudicate cases that ultimately expose defense contractors to appropriate liability where it is demonstrated that they acted outside the parameters established by the military and, as a result, failed to exercise proper care in minimizing risk to service members and civilians.”