Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Archive for June, 2011

2nd ex-Blackwater worker Justin Cannon gets 30 months for manslaughter

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 27, 2011

by Bill Sizemore at The Virginian Pilot  June 27, 2011

A second former Blackwater contractor was sentenced to prison for involuntary manslaughter today in the 2009 shooting death of a civilian in Afghanistan.

Justin Cannon of Corpus Christi, Texas, was sentenced to 30 months by U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar.

A Virginia Beach man, Christopher Drotleff, received a 37-month sentence earlier this month for his actions in the same incident.

The two were charged with murder and convicted of the lesser charge in March after an earlier trial ended in a hung jury. They are the first contractors for the Moyock, N.C.-based security company now known as Xe Services to get prison time for killing a civilian in a war zone.

Cannon and Drotleff were working for a Blackwater subsidiary providing weapons training to the Afghan army under a Defense Department subcontract.

Please see the details and background at The Virginian Pilot

Posted in Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Xe | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

PTSD, Ethics and Honor in the Warzone

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 27, 2011

General Petraeus’ Link to Troubling Suicide in Iraq: The Ted Westhusing Story

Before putting a bullet through his head, Westhusing had been deeply disturbed by abuses carried out by American contractors in Iraq, including allegations that they had witnessed or even participated in the murder of Iraqis.

See Also  Journey That Ended in Anguish by T Christian Miller

The scourge of suicides among American troops and reservists in Iraq and Afghanistan remains a serious and seriously underreported problem.

Last month they hit a new high in the US Army, despite intensive new efforts to prevent them. One of the few high-profile cases emerged six years ago this month, and it involves a much-admired Army colonel and ethicist named Ted Westhusing — who, in his suicide note, pointed a finger at a then little-known U.S. general named David Petraeus.

Westhusing’s widow, asked by a friend what killed this West Point scholar, replied simply: “Iraq.”

‘Something he saw [in Iraq] drove him to this,’ one Army officer who was close to Westhusing said in an interview. ‘The sum of what he saw going on drove him’ to take his own life.

‘It’s because he believed in duty, honor, country that he’s dead.'”

Please read the entire story at The Nation

Posted in AIG and CNA, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Insurance, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Epidemic: Over 400,000 Traumatic Brain Injuries for Vets Coming from Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 26, 2011

With like numbers of Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, similar casualty rates though we do not know who they are, why are contractors not receiving screening and medical treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries? 

The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies deny diagnoses and treatment for TBI for the precious years that are so vital to the injured contractors recovery.  Years that no amount of money can ever bring back.

“We now know that the brain can heal. It has an intrinsic plasticity that allows it to recover, and this is particularly true for the young brain.”

A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that “neurons in the adult brain can remodel their connections,” thus “overturning a century of prevailing thought.”

The DOD has long resisted the diagnosis of mTBI, as it has avoided paying for a successful – but expensive – way to treat it. The price of that resistance is escalating suicide rates and domestic violence incidents among returning soldiers. In 2010, almost as many soldiers committed suicide as fell in battle.

By Conn Hallinan at AlertNet

America faces a huge challenge in caring for the shocking number of traumatized war vets.

“We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a country we have not responded adequately to the problem. Unless we act urgently and wisely, we will be dealing with an epidemic of service related psychological wounds for years to come.” — Bobby Muller, President Veterans for America

According to official Defense Department (DOD) figures, 332,000 soldiers have suffered brain injuries since 2000, although most independent experts estimate that the number is over 400,000. Many of these are mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), a term that is profoundly misleading.

As David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles, points out, “I don’t know what makes it ‘mild,’ because it can evolve into anxiety disorders, personality changes, and depression.” It can also set off a constellation of physical disabilities from chronic pain to sexual dysfunction and insomnia.

MTBI is defined as any incident that produces unconsciousness lasting for up to a half hour or creates an altered state consciousness. It is the signature wound for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where roadside bombs are the principal weapon for insurgents.

Most soldiers recover from mTBI, but between five and 15 percent do not. According to Dr. Elaine Peskind of the University of Washington Medical School, “The estimate of the number who returned with symptomatic mild traumatic brain injury due to blast exposure has varied from the official VA [Veterans Administration] number of 9 percent officially diagnosed with mTBI to over 20 percent, and, I think, ultimately it will be higher than that.”

Serious consequences from mTBI are increased when troops are subjected to multiple explosions and “just get blasted and blasted and blasted,” in the words of Maj. Connie Johnmeyer. Out of two million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 800,000 have had multiple deployments, many up to five times or more.

But mTBI is difficult to diagnose because it does not show up on standard CAT scans and MRIs. “Our scans show nothing,” says Dr. Michael Weiner, professor of radiology, psychiatry and neurology at the University of California at San Francisco and director of the Center for Imaging Neurodegenerative Disease at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.

They do now.

An MRI set to track the flow of water through the brain’s neurons, has turned up anomalies that indicate the presence of mTBI. However, the military has blocked informing patients of results of the research, and if history is any guide, the Pentagon will do its best to shelve or ignore the results.

The DOD has long resisted the diagnosis of mTBI, as it has avoided paying for a successful – but expensive – way to treat it. The price of that resistance is escalating suicide rates and domestic violence incidents among returning soldiers. In 2010, almost as many soldiers committed suicide as fell in battle.

MTBI is hardly new. Some 5.3 million people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized or in residential facilities because of it, and its social consequences are severe.  Please read the entire story at AlertNet

Posted in Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Insurance, Injured Contractors, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, T Christian Miller, Veterans, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Iraq car bomb kills Dr. Stephen Everhart, Contractor, injures two

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 23, 2011

Update  AP Baghdad

The American civilian killed earlier Thursday was Dr. Stephen Everhart, said a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland.

“Dr. Everhart was an American citizen who was working in Iraq for an implementing partner of the United States Agency for International Development’s Mission in Iraq. He was killed while working on a project to introduce a new business curriculum to a Baghdad university in a program supported by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education,” she said in a statement.

“We are saddened by this tragedy and extend our thoughts and prayers to Dr. Everhart’s family and loved ones, and to the three other injured victims and their families,” she said.

Everhart worked at the American University in Cairo, where he was associate dean of the Business School and a finance professor. Before joining AUC, he worked extensively with the World Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency designed to help businesses break into developing markets.

He also wrote articles on topics like international aid, corruption and financial markets.

Officials at Georgia State University said Everhart listed San Antonio, Texas, as his hometown on his registration paperwork. Everhart got both his master’s and doctorate in economics at Georgia State in Atlanta.

Mary Beth Walker, dean of the School of Policy Studies, said Everhart met his wife, Stephanie, while in graduate school there. She described him as a “hard worker” with a good sense of humor.

Walker said Everhart had contact with Georgia State faculty members in the last two weeks about his work in Iraq and said he was planning to move to Vietnam soon to work at a university there.

The State Department gave no information about how he was killed, but an Iraqi police official said the American contractors were visiting a satellite office of Mustansiriyah University in eastern Baghdad when they were hit by a roadside bomb.

By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times  June 23, 2011

The civilian contractor and another American who was wounded in the blast were attacked in eastern Baghdad on the way to a Baghdad University campus, the U.S. Embassy reports

Reporting from Baghdad—

A U.S civilian contractor was killed and another American wounded in a car bomb attack in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, according to the U.S. Embassy.

The slain American had been traveling to Baghdad University’s Mustansiriya campus when attackers detonated a car bomb near Palestine Street, a busy commercial avenue

“An American civilian working with an implementing partner of the United States Agency for International Development in Iraq was killed in a terrorist attack today in Baghdad,” embassy spokesman David Ranz said. “Two additional civilians were wounded in the attack, including one American citizen.”

At least nine U.S. soldiers have been killed in attacks this June, according to the independent website icasualties.org. Armed groups, both Shiite and Sunni, appear to be striking out at the American military and diplomatic presence ahead of the scheduled departure of U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of the year. The Iraqi government is debating whether it should ask U.S. troops to stay on after 2011.

ned.parker@latimes.com

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, State Department, USAID | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Injured Blackwater Xe war contractor approved for treatment by AIG

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 16, 2011

Bravo to Kevin Graman for exposing AIG’s  dangerous “risk management” practices.

We too hope it is not too late for Jennifer as it has been for so many who have come before her.

A Big Salute to you both !!

Kevin Graman The Spokesman Review  June 16, 2011

A Spokane-area woman who was injured by an enemy mortar explosion while working as a helicopter mechanic in Afghanistan has received approval from a government-contracted insurance company to receive the treatment her doctors say she needs.

Jennifer Barcklay, 40, of Chattaroy, was been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after the September 2009 attack at a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan, where she was employed by Blackwater, the private defense security contractor now known as Xe Services.

On Wednesday, she was told that Chartis WorldSource, the giant insurance company once known as American International Group, AIG, would cover the cognitive rehabilitation therapy recommended by eight medical providers in Spokane.

“This is bittersweet,” Barcklay said. “I’m hoping it’s not too late.”

It has been more than a year since Barcklay’s providers first began recommending comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation, which is more effective the sooner it is begun. It is not offered locally.

She continues to endure seizures, memory loss, headaches, tremors and problems with her balance that prevent her from returning to work.

“Frankly, I am appalled at how many obstacles have been placed in the way of her receiving the treatment she needs,” Spokane neuropsychologist Winifred Daisley wrote the insurer on Barcklay’s behalf.

A nurse contracted by Chartis to manage Barcklay’s case was unexpectedly terminated in October after notifying the insurer that her patient was approved for treatment at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield, Calif.

Under the Defense Base Act of 1941, defense contractors must provide medical and disability insurance for their workers in war zones. The premiums are included in the companies’ contract with the Department of Defense.

There were nearly 56,000 such claims for injuries or deaths from the start of the Iraq war to 2009. That year, a congressional investigation found that insurance companies have been slow to approve claims for injuries despite receiving millions in premiums from the federal government.

Another World War II-era law, the War Hazards Compensation Act, reimburses the employer or insurer for injuries or death to a worker caused by an act of war. The insurer is reimbursed by the taxpayers for 100 percent of the claim, plus 15 percent for administrative costs.

Chartis’s approval of Barcklay’s treatment followed a letter from the U.S. Department of Labor, recommending that she be allowed to go to the Centre for Neuro Skills.

The letter also was critical of an independent review of Barcklay’s medical records by a Chartis-contracted neuropsychiatrist in Rhode Island who appeared to diagnose the patient’s condition as psychological rather than physiological without examining her.

Please see the original story at The Spokesman Review

Posted in AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Medical Examinations, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, Hope that I die, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ex Blackwater worker gets 37 months in Afghan’s death

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 14, 2011

Bill Sizemore The Virginian Pilot  June 14, 2011

NORFOLK  A former Blackwater contractor from Virginia Beach was sentenced to 37 months in prison today for involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting death of a civilian in Afghanistan.

Christopher Drotleff is the first contractor for the Moyock, N.C.-based security company now known as Xe Services to get prison time for killing a civilian in a war zone. A second man, Justin Cannon of Corpus Christi, Texas, has been convicted in the same case and faces sentencing later this month.

The two were charged with murder and tried twice. Their first trial, in September, ended in a hung jury. The manslaughter convictions in their March retrial appeared to be a compromise verdict.

Drotleff and Cannon were working for Paravant, a Blackwater subsidiary, providing weapons training for the Afghan army under a Defense Department subcontract when their two-vehicle convoy became involved in a traffic accident in Kabul, the Afghan capital, in May 2009.

They were off duty at the time and had been drinking, according to testimony.

Fareed Haji Ahmad, driving home from dinner with a co-worker, approached the scene in his Toyota Corolla and offered to help, he testified. He became confused, he said, when three men waved him on but a fourth told him to stop.

When he drove off, Drotleff and Cannon opened fire on the retreating vehicle, according to testimony. Ahmad’s passenger, Romal Mohammad Naiem, was killed.

A pedestrian, Rahib Mirza Mohammad, out walking with a friend and a dog, was also shot in the back of the head and died a month later. The contractors were acquitted of charges in his death.

Neither Drotleff nor Cannon testified in the case. Their attorneys argued that the two men believed themselves to be under attack.

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Xe | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Blackwater Gets ‘Too Big To Fail,’ Hires AIG Castoff

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 13, 2011

Nothing says, “We’re through with scandal!” quite like hiring a former executive from one of the country’s leading economic bloodsuckers.

by Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room

Blackwater — sorry, Xe Services — really wants to turn the PR page from the bad old days of Nisour Square, when the infamous private security firm’s guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. It’s no longer owned by Erik Prince, who may be involved in yet another shady mercenary firm. It’s on a hiring spree for new executives. And that’s kind of the problem.

Xe’s new owners, USTC Holdings, aren’t exactly bringing in scandal-free talent to run Xe v.2.0. On Monday, they announced Xe’s new “Chief Regulatory & Compliance Officer,” a new position for the company, will be Suzanne Folsom, most recently of insurance giant AIG.

Yes, the woman in charge of making sure the world’s most infamous private security firm is in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations is a veteran of the insurance giant that helped plunge the country into financial chaos. The public bailed out AIG to the tune of $182 billion. Folsom — then as now, regulatory compliance chief for a scandal-plagued firm — got a golden parachute reportedly worth $1 million.

 

Nor is Folsom the only such example. Xe’s new CEO is Ted Wright, hired June 1 to run the company after helming North American operations for military services giant KBR. Among KBR’s recent hits: kidnapping Filipinos to work for the company in Iraq; confining its Iraq workers to “windowless warehouses“; and locking a woman employee in isolation after she was gang-raped — by other KBR employees.

Then there’s the fact that Xe brought on former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the face of the Patriot Act, as its ethics chief. (Though it has to be noted that Ashcroft, gravely ill, bravely resisted an effort by the Bush White House to improperly extend a warrantless surveillance program. Respect.)

Representatives for USTC Holdings have yet to respond to requests for comment. We’ll update if and when they do.

There’s been a lot of talk for years about Blackwater’s effort to rebrand itself as a squeaky clean company. Hiring from AIG and KBR doesn’t exactly scream Good Corporate Citizen. It does, however, suggest that the company knows how to get what it wants from the government — with impunity.  Please see the original here

See Also

Posted in AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Xe | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Army vet battling private insurer for coverage she feels is due

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 13, 2011

“The American Psychiatric Association has a very specific and rigid stance against psychiatrists rendering diagnoses on patients they have not examined.”

Injured as contractor in Afghanistan but denied specialized therapy at home

Kevin Graman The Spokesman Review  June 13, 2011

A highly trained helicopter mechanic sits in her Chattaroy home and wonders what will come next: another debilitating brain seizure or the therapy she hopes will help her recover from injury as a result of a mortar explosion 20 months ago in Afghanistan.

Jennifer Barcklay says she is being denied the specialized inpatient medical treatment her doctors believe is her only hope for a normal life.

“These are war crimes, using taxpayer dollars to profit from injuries incurred by people fighting for our freedom,” Barcklay says.

Although she is a U.S. Army veteran, Barcklay, 40, was injured as a civilian working for Blackwater, the private security contractor now known as Xe Services. She and thousands of other civilian employees injured in the defense of their nation have had to navigate an often unresponsive private insurance system.

Xe’s insurance carrier has so far denied Barcklay expensive inpatient treatment known as cognitive rehabilitation therapy, which was recommend by eight Spokane area physicians and mental health care providers.

She suffers from traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for which thousands of U.S. soldiers are receiving care in military or Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Like many of them, she continues to endure seizures, memory loss, headaches, tremors and problems with her balance that prevent her from returning to work.

Under the Defense Base Act of 1941, defense contractors must provide medical and disability insurance for their workers in war zones. The premiums are included in the companies’ contract with the Department of Defense.

There have been nearly 56,000 such claims for injuries or deaths from the start of the Iraq war to 2009. That year, a congressional investigation found that insurance companies had collected $1.5 billion in premiums, while they paid out about $900 million in compensation and expenses.

Another World War II-era law, the War Hazards Compensation Act, reimburses the employer or insurer for injuries or death to a worker caused by an act of war. The insurer is reimbursed by the taxpayers for 100 percent of the claim, plus 15 percent for administrative costs. From 2003 to 2010, the federal government paid more to insurers for expenses, $19.7 million, than it paid in compensation, $12.1 million, to claimants under the act.

More than three-quarters of the Defense Base Act claims were handled by American International Group, which was rescued in 2008 by the U.S. government in the largest corporate bailout in history.

An AIG subsidiary, Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania-Chartis WorldSource, took months to authorize a neurological evaluation for Barcklay. Now Chartis is refusing to pay for her inpatient treatment.

“Frankly, I am appalled at how many obstacles have been placed in the way of her receiving the treatment she needs,” Spokane neuropsychologist Winifred Daisley wrote in a December letter to Chartis case manager Debra Ragan.

Marie Ali, a Chartis spokeswoman, said she could not comment on individual claims but that the company “is committed to handling every claim professionally, ethically and fairly.”

“We provide the highest level of service to our insureds, which includes the prompt adjudication and payment of claims.”

A spokesman for Xe Services said, “The company has worked diligently with the insurance provider to help ensure Ms. Barcklay receives the level of care and treatment she needs.”

Please read the entire story here

See Also

More Than 70 Members of Congress Demand Cognitive Treatment for Troops With Traumatic Brain Injuries

by T Christian Miller from his series at ProPublica Brain Wars

Posted in AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Medical Examinations, Department of Labor, Independent Medical Examinations, Injured Contractors, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, PTSD and TBI, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Johnny doesn’t come cheap, but there is a lot to win for his contributors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 11, 2011

Smiling all the way to the bank

Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia has presented Bill S. 669 to the Senate which has been referred to a committee on which he sits, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, for deliberation, investigation, and revision.

Bill S.669 was introduced AS IT WAS WRITTEN BY IT”S SPONSOR who is Senator Johnny Isakson, who is heavily supported by Insurance Companies and Attorneys who stand to reap ever larger profits than they already do if this bill were to become law.  Nearly every aspect of the Bill would be a huge present to the Defense Base Act Insurance business.

Johnny is looking out for the insurance companies and attorneys

This grim reaper sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee as well.

Johnny Isakson can be contacted at 202-224-3643.
1175 Peachtree St Ne
Atlanta, GA 30361
Phone : (404) 347-2202
The following is from the Johnny Isakson page at MapLight.org

Total Campaign Contributions Received by Johnny Isakson: $8,231,997

Interest Contributions
Real Estate $854,942
Lawyers/Law Firms $449,582
Health Professionals $298,416
Insurance $251,650
Banks and Credit $236,150
Lobbyists $214,261
Securities & Investment $200,500
Misc Finance $178,075
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $167,500

Posted in Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Follow the Money, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Mark Partridge, Contractor, Killed in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 10, 2011

A FATHER-of-four has been killed in Iraq – the day after he returned to work there.

Driffield Times UK

Mark Partridge was killed on Monday afternoon, the day after arriving in the country for what was only meant to be a two-month posting.

For the past six years the 47-year-old had been employed as a driver for a private security firm, regularly being sent out to work in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He returned to Iraq on Sunday but was tragically killed on Monday afternoon after the vehicle he was travelling in came off the road and crashed.

Mark’s family said details of the crash are sketchy at the moment but the news of his death has come has a huge shock.

Mark’s Son Richard, 23, said: “He was brave and he loved it and he died doing the job that he loved.”

“He was basically a nice guy. Everyone liked him. He was always into his football and everyone got along with him.”

Mark lived in Driffield for more than 25 years after meeting his ex-wife Julie Partridge, 45, in the town.

Julie, of Beverley Road, said: “He was outgoing and liked a good laugh.”

He served in the British Army for more than 15 years, working in close protection security which took him and his family to Northern Ireland, Germany and various locations around the UK.

After leaving the Army, Mark was employed as a civilian driving instructor at the Defence School of Transport in Leconfield, before finding employment with a private security firm.  Please read the entire story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Injured Contractors lawsuit alleges Blackwater failed to pay benefits

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 8, 2011

The lawsuit says Xe and its workers compensation insurers refused to provide benefits until forced to do so “after drawn out disputes in administrative courts.”

AFP June 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — Four former employees of Blackwater, the scandal-plagued security firm now called Xe, have filed a $60 million class action lawsuit claiming the firm failed to pay health and pension benefits to its employees.

Their lawyer, Scott Bloch, said Wednesday that Xe improperly classified thousands of its employees as independent contractors, allowing the company to avoid “millions of dollars in taxes, withholding and payments of benefits.”

“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers,” said Bloch in a statement

It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Washington, and hopes to recover Social Security, unemployment insurance, health and other benefits for the four plaintiffs, all of whom were injured while working for Blackwater.

“Plaintiffs and many of those similarly situated came home wounded physically and psychologically from Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, and needed health insurance to take care of difficulties for themselves and their families,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit says Xe and its workers compensation insurers refused to provide benefits until forced to do so “after drawn out disputes in administrative courts.”

Read the entire article here

Posted in AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, Xe | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Class Action Tax Misclassification filed against Xe, Formerly Blackwater

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 7, 2011

Scott Bloch blasts Blackwater on behalf of thousands of former employees who were mistreated and denied employee benefits, unemployment and other withholding based on a fraudulent misclassification as independent contractors.

Mercadante et al vs Xe Services, LLC et al

    Statement Concerning Filing of Class Action Tax  Misclassification Against Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) on
 Behalf of Personal Security Specialists for Loss of Benefits and Withholding

WASHINGTON, DC (June 7, 2011) –

Since 2007, Blackwater Industries, which has changed its name to Xe Services, has employed over 10,000 personal security specialists to perform operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under lucrative contracts with departments of the United States Government including the State Department and CIA.

While employing these individuals, many of whom are decorated veterans of the armed services including Special Forces, Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Blackwater sought to avoid millions of dollars in taxes, withholding, and payments of benefits to these employees by classifying them improperly as independent contractors.

Yesterday, Scott Bloch filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages.  The action is brought on their own behalf and thousands of others who have worked for Blackwater and its newly named Xe Services.

The action seeks $60,000,000 in damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.

“These brave individuals who worked in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghani Enduring Freedom, deserve better than to be turned away without health insurance, pension benefits, unemployment benefits, and other withholding afforded to Blackwater’s other
employees,” said Scott Bloch.

According to the lawsuit, the United States treasury loses billions of dollars annually to misclassified employees.     Under the commonlaw and the IRS 20 questions put out in 1987 pursuant to a regulation, Blackwater was obliged to classify these individuals as employees if Blackwater had the right to control the employees’ actions, manner of performing duties,  hours, training, equipment, whether the duties of the employees go to a core function of the employer or are duties that are consider ancillary to the main purpose of the company, and other factors.

The lawsuit states that Blackwater provided their equipment, including weapons issued by the government, training, and control over employees’ duties, manner of performing their security  duties, operations they went on, protection details and other duties.

“These veterans were actually given diplomatic passports and classified as employees of Blackwater to the United States government in the contracts as they procured insurance required for employees, and also represented to the State Department that they were
employees,” said Bloch in a statement upon filing, “yet when it came to paying taxes, paying  their employer portion of social security and Medicare taxes that all Americans expect their employers to pay, they simply claimed they were independent contractors.”

The suit also states that one of the representative plaintiffs already had a determination from the IRS that Blackwater misclassified him as an independent contractor.  “The IRS already  determined in the case of one of my clients that he should have been classified as an
employee,“ said Bloch.  “Now thousands of people will have to file amended returns.   Thousands of people will likely be entitled to benefits they were denied due to the misclassification, including payment of their employer share of pension, health and disability
insurance premiums, and other plans that Blackwater filed with the government for its employees, promising it would not discriminate against those employees as they did here.”

In addition, claims the suit, the United States Congress previously held hearings under the Oversight and Government Reform committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, Chair, which determined that Blackwater and its related companies misclassified employees in order to avoid millions of dollars in taxes. In addition, the IRS prior to making the determination on the plaintiff in this suit, had ruled on behalf of other Blackwater security specialists, and related job titles, that Blackwater had misclassified these employees who performed services under contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers.  They also had in their ranks Federal Agents, such as current employees of the FBI on leave of absence. They were hired as security specialists in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bloch. “It is a grave injustice to them who were  mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare.  They laid down their lives to protect dignitaries and carry out duties in support of wars for America, and they deserve better than this. Many of these same men risked their lives to protect everyone from the President of the United States to U.S. Senators, Congressman, U.S. Diplomats, to Foreign Presidential & Diplomatic Figures in one of the most dangerous places on the planet.”

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States and some Americans living abroad, including all former and current Blackwater and Xe employees and so-called independent contractors.

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290

Law Offices of Scott J Bloch Website

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Political Watch, State Department, Taxes, Xe | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Brett Benton, Contractor, Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 5, 2011

Update

DynCorp International Afghan Police Mentor Killed by IED

June 6, 2011 – DynCorp International is deeply saddened by the loss of team member Brett Benton, 37, of Dry Ridge, Kentucky, who was killed on June 4, 2011 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle near Alingar District, Laghman Province, Afghanistan.

Mr. Benton joined the mission in May 2011, to assist in mentoring and training the Afghan National Police, following more than a decade of law enforcement service in Kentucky.

“Brett was a hero who served our country throughout his life: in the National Guard, as a law enforcement officer in Kentucky and supporting U.S. operations in Afghanistan,” said Steve Gaffney, chairman and CEO of DynCorp International. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.”

Under a contract with the U.S. Army, DI assists the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (NTM-A/CSTC-A) by providing specialized training and mentoring services for the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Afghan National Police (ANP).

Update

Benton and a number of other contractors were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near them. MSNBC

Update

Details of Benton’s death have not yet been revealed, the statement said. But reports say that he was killed by a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) early this morning.

According to the Kenton County Police website, during his time as an officer, Sergeant Benton worked in the K-9 division with a police dog named Tommy.

Former Kenton County Sergeant Killed in Afghanistan    June 4, 2011 11:49 pm

A man who resigned from the Kenton County Police Department to go to Afghanistan has died.

Sergeant Brett Benton resigned from his job with the department in May.
Friends tell Local 12 News that Benton left for Afghanistan to work as a contractor and teach locals how to be better police officers.
He’d only been in the country for a couple of weeks when we was killed.
Details on the cause and time of death have not been released.
Flags are now flying at half-staff in Kenton County in Benton’s honor.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Dyncorp | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

U.S. Army misled public about Acinetobacter outbreak’s origins, report shows

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 1, 2011

An internal 2005 U.S. Army study reported that improper use of antibiotics and unsanitary conditions at military hospitals contributed to a deadly outbreak of Acinetobacter infections — not Iraqi dirt in soldiers’ blast wounds, as officials publicly claimed until 2007.

Injured Civilian Contractors were infected with Acinetobacter baumannii in the military medical evacuation system causing many to lose limbs and some their lives.  At a minimum, treatment for an Acinetobacter baumannii infection causes a much longer recovery time and life long implications.

If you suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury your freshly compressed brain cells were bathed in huge doses of highly nuerotoxic antibiotics prophylacticly whether or not you had this infection creating a hostile environment for recovery at the very least.

by Bryant Furlow at EpiNewswire.com

The U.S. Army Public Health Command has released an incomplete list of epidemiological consultation (EPICON) studies from the past decade to epiNewswire, without mentioning the fact that the titles of some studies were not on the list.

One politically-sensitive Army report excluded from the disclosed list is a 2005 EPICON study detailing the spread of multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter infections from contaminated military hospitals in Iraq throughout the military hospital system.

That report details evidence that that improper use of antibiotics and unsanitary conditions at U.S. military hospitals were responsible for the deadly outbreak of Acinetobacter infections among wounded troops, and that the outbreak had spread to civilian patients in the U.S. and Germany, killing several of them.

But for several years after the study’s completion, Army health officials continued to downplay the risk to civilians and to make misleading statements to soldiers and the public, claiming Acinetobacter infections were from Iraqi soil in soldiers’ blast wounds.

In reality, Acinetobacter “wound infections were relatively uncommon,” the 2005 Acinetobacter EPICON report states. “Pre-hospital, primary wound infections in-theater are not likely to have a significant role in transmission.”

In Iraq, military surgeons were using broad-spectrum antibiotics as prophylactics against infection, “introducing a greater risk of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO) evolving as a result,” the report notes.

Hand hygiene practices were inconsistently observed by military healthcare workers, the report states.

“Proper hand washing has been the single most important measure in controlling hospital spread of Acinetobacter,” the report states.

All seven military hospitals in Iraq were found to be “contaminated” with Acinetobacter, the report states.

Civilians were at much greater risk from infections than soldiers, the report states.

The report recommended adoption of standardized infection control practices at military hospitals and the air evacuation system, including disinfection and hand washing practices – and noted a pressing need for improved medical record-keeping “at all levels of care, particularly in-theater.”

A German hospital accepting U.S. troops on a referral basis, experienced an Acinetobacter outbreak that spread to German patients, the report states. That outbreak “reflects the potential importance that the outbreak can have, and probably has had, outside of the direct chain of evacuation,” the report states. Similar outbreaks had occurred in British hospitals where UK troops had been treated, the report notes.

Missing and incomplete medical records complicated the study, the report states.

“Relatively few surveillance and infection control data are available from in-theater, although progress has been made,” the report states. “Data quality from patient chart reviews indicates large variation in data available and no standardization.”

The “absence of good documentation either precludes any ability to draw scientific conclusions or significantly complicates investigations and analyses that are critical for prioritizing interventional resources and saving lives,” the report states.

epiNewswire’s Bryant Furlow first reported on an Acinetobacter outbreak among Iraqi and U.S. patients on the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship Comfort in July 2006, in the International Affairs Journal’s International Update newsletter.

In February 2007, Wired magazine writer Steve Silberman subsequently broke the story of Acinetobacter’s spread to Europe, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and elsewhere. Silberman’s report details how the family of a U.S. Marine who died of his infection, was initially told he had died of his wounds.

That summer, citing two medical journal publications based on parts of the EPICON research effort,  Reuters reported that “new research” showed that contaminated hospitals, not Iraqi soil, caused the Acinetobacter outbreak.

In reality, military medical officials had suspected as much since spring 2003, the EPICON report indicates — and had known it to be the case since the first, 2004 symposium on the project’s initial findings.

Further reading:

EPICON #12-HA-01-JK-04, “Investigating Acinetobacter baumannii infections at U.S. Army military treatment facilities 27 August 2004 to 27 May 2005.” (View here, via Document Cloud.)

Steve Silberman. “The Invisible Enemy.” Wired magazine, February 2007.

Reuters Health. “Field hospitals source of soldier infections.” June 18, 2007.

The Iraq Infections

Please see the original at EpiNewswire

Posted in Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, AWOL Medical Records, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Defense, Injured Contractors, Iraq, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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