Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Contractor, DynCorp, found not liable for war-zone employee deaths

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 14, 2010

From the Federal Times

See also The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy A License to Kill

In a decision that could have broad implications for government contractors, the Delaware Supreme Court on Dec. 8 upheld a lower court ruling that an employee-signed agreement waiving liability precludes lawsuits for wrongful death and negligence.

Is DynCorp having employees sign separate agreements stating this or are they relying on the normally undisclosed Exclusive Remedy clause in the DBA?  There is no DBA policy to read and agree to.

On Aug. 29, 2004, John Deuley and Gerald Gibson, two civilian police officers working for a subsidiary of DynCorp International, were killed in an attack on the State Department’s civilian police headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Joseph Dickinson, another civilian police officer, was severely injured in the attack.

Deuley’s and Gibson’s wives filed wrongful death and survival lawsuits, while Dickinson filed a personal injury lawsuit against DynCorp, headquartered in Delaware.

The Delaware Supreme Court, in upholding the lower court’s dismissal of the case, rejected the argument that the employee agreement was vague by releasing the company of responsibility on “any claim” in return for agreed-upon benefits, and the court rejected the argument that the agreement did not extend to employer negligence, according to court documents.

The significant part of the agreement, according to the court, states that “the employee understands and accepts the fact that he or she may be exposed to dangers due to the nature of the mission. The employee agrees that neither the Employer nor its affiliates will be liable in the event of death, injury, or disability, to Employee, except as stated.”

DynCorp’s agreement with the employees involved the purchase of life insurance, medical coverage and disability benefits as required under the Defense Base Act, under which many government contractors operate, but releases DynCorps from legal damages from negligence or other issues such as wrongful death.

Please see the complete article at the above link


One Response to “Contractor, DynCorp, found not liable for war-zone employee deaths”

  1. Brit guy said

    Interesting point of law.
    So let us look at it
    The company I worked for had us sign a similar agreement I.E. that we agreed to work in a dangerous environment and would not hold them liable for any injuries we received.
    However we were also told that we had a certain level of insurance should the worse happen.
    So if the insurers then revert to their usual tactics of denial at any cost you have to go with it.
    That’s the point if the company agree to the insurers demands to follow their position how can the employer then claim that the insurer does not represent their views.
    In my case the insurer lied about my injuries.
    My employer said that they were not contesting my claim the reason
    The insurer effectively committed fraud the company I worked for have continually denied that the insurers are nothing to do with them to distance themselves from the insurers position.
    How can they have it both ways?
    If they sign up to an agreement with the insurers how can they not be liable for the insurers actions?
    How can they say we do not contest the claim but allow the insurer to use their name in fighting the claim?
    Then go to court and deny it is their fault and they are not responsible.
    I think we are fighting on the wrong front and instead of fighting on the insurance issue we should sue the companies for breach of contract.
    Remember that if the company does not include the benefits in writing under the DBA policy and imply as my company did that you have a certain level of coverage and you are entitled to certain things even if the insurer then challenges the claim. A contract is something written or implied if one or other parties rely on that information and forms the bond of a legal contract.
    They would be in breach of contract.
    In other words if the company you work for imply something when you sign then do not deliver then are they ar are they not in breach of contract?

    The law of contract is a set of rules governing the relationship, content and validity of an agreement between two or more persons (individuals, companies or other institution) regarding the sale of goods, provision of services or exchange of interests or ownership. While this is a wide definition it does not cover the full ambit of situations in which contract law will apply. The reason for this is due to the vast number of examples in which contracts can arise in everyday life.
    Contract law has been more formally defined as a promise or set of promises which the law will enforce. Another definition and a somewhat competing view, is that a contract is an agreement giving rise to obligations which are enforced or recognized by law. Either definition confirms the involvement of the law by way of enforcement, suggesting that should there be an infraction or breach of the terms of the agreement then the aggrieved party may seek recourse via the Courts. As is noted above, a contract can arise is a plethora of scenarios; from buying a loaf of bread in the corner shop, to the sale of a house. It is unsurprising therefore that certainty is needed before the Courts will intervene to enforce any agreement.

    The law of contract has confirmed the basic foundations of any contract, regardless of its complexity and substance, that it must contain to make the agreement enforceable in law.

    There must be an offer and this must be accepted to make an agreement. While this would in the first instance appear to be self explanatory, it is important to distinguish between what the law says amounts to a valid offer. An offer can be made

    orally, in writing or by way of conduct.
    Regardless as to the manner of the offer, it is the willingness or intention of the person making the offer (the offeree) which is of importance, and that is clearly subjective. If a person says that I want to sell this orange for £1.00 but then mistakenly advertises it for 1p, and that offer is accepted, then a valid agreement will be upheld. Simply because there was a mistake in the offer, it does not invalidate the contract. There was an intention to sell on the part of the offeree. It is important to distinguish at this point however between an offer and an “invitation to treat”.

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