Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Archive for November, 2012

Mystery lung illness affecting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 27, 2012

Due to the large number of contractors contacting us about Lung problems after working in Iraq and Afghanistan we’ll be investigating and posting all information we can find on this topic.  Please forward any information you may have to dbacasualty@yahoo.com.

Channel 4 News from August 2011

US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with an apparently untreatable and incurable lung disease are being dismissed as out of shape because tests appear normal, writes Sarah Jones.

A civilian physician who has diagnosed more than 50 soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis says the life-altering disease is linked to service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr Robert Miller, of Vanderbilt University, says: “This scarring of the small airways in the lungs is common in people who have had bone marrow transplants or lung transplant rejection not people who have passed military fitness exams.

I get shortness of breath and painful burning in my lungs after running just a quarter of a mile, I can’t run any more Dr Sylvia Waters

“What we can say is that this disorder is linked to service in the Middle East. But we haven’t been able to definitively link what the cause is for the black lacy pigment. It’s something that’s inhaled that shouldn’t be there.”

Last month the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Dr Miller and colleagues which documented the condition of soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis.

However, their analysis doesn’t reveal how common the condition is in troops or positively identify the cause of constrictive bronchiolitis in troops.

‘Black lacy pigmentation’

The diagnoses were made after lung biopsies. At least half the soldiers have left the service with a disability rating making them eligible to receive anywhere between $123 to over $3,100 per month depending on the level of their disability and number of dependents.

In certain instances the Department of Veterans Affairs recognises a link between the disorder and service. But compensation is based on pulmonary function testing (PFT) and soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis have normal PFT results despite having scarring of the airways, black lacy pigment in their lungs and severe exercise limitations.

A further complication is that deployed troops do not receive pre- and post-deployment pulmonary function tests that could help doctors know the extent of lung damage.

Dr Sylvia Waters serves in the US army and is a practicing anaesthetist. She used to run every day but after serving in Iraq she had to give up her passion.

“After a six-month tour in Mosul, Iraq I get shortness of breath and an excruciating burning in my lungs after running just a quarter of a mile. I can’t run any more.”

Army physicians tried routine tests including X-rays, pulmonary function tests and chest CT scans. They tried inhalers and steroid treatments but nothing worked and all tests results kept coming back normal.

At times, Dr Waters says she doubted herself: “I felt like I was going crazy because all these physicians kept telling me everything was coming back negative.

“It was only the fact that I was a physician and I knew other doctors that I even got diagnosed because I don’t know how else I would have done it.”

Please read the entire story here

 

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Thank You Veterans

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 11, 2012

Thank you to all who served 

With a special thank you to those who served again

and were sold out to

AIG, CNA, and ACE

by the US Government

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn Pits Claims

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 4, 2012

Breathing dust, fumes and other and other toxic substances, exposed troops deployed overseas, and those who worked for government contractors abroad and other civilians, to a serious hazards. Some of the chemicals were very toxic carcinogens and are deadly.

At US Senate hearings it was revealed that the toxic carcinogen, Sodium Dichromate (CAS 10588-01-9), was spread across a ruined water-injection facility in Qarmat Ali, Iraq, when the soldiers were there in the spring and summer of 2003. Thousands of individuals may have been exposed.

A simple evaluation may assist in assessing your exposure and disease which includes: a history which characterized the exposure and preexisting medical conditions of each individual exposed; a physical exam that identified any findings potentially related to a chromium exposure, and medical tests including blood, urine, chest X-ray, and a breathing test (called a pulmonary function test).

An exposure to this chemical may produce:

  • Chronic health effects
  • Lung and throat cancer
  • Blisters and deep ulcers
  • Damage to the septum
  • Skin allergy
  • Asthma-like allergy
  • Kidney damage.

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals. If you have been exposed to burn pit dust, smoke or fumes or Sodium Dichromate, contact Jon Gelman via e-mail or call +1 973-696-7900.

Please see the list of known Burn Pit locations here

Posted in Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

$85 million awarded to 12 Oregon soldiers; KBR guilty of negligence, not fraud

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 2, 2012

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

A Portland jury found defense contractor KBR Inc. was negligent, but did not commit fraud against a dozen Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who sued the company for its conduct in Iraq nine years ago. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak announced the decision about 3:35 p.m. the U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.

“It’s a little bit of justice,” said Guard veteran Jason Arnold, moments after the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Arnold was one of four of the soldier-plaintiffs in the courtroom was the verdict was read.

The verdict should send an important message to those who rely on military troops, he said.

“We’re not disposable,” said another soldier, Aaron St. Clair. “People are not going to make money from our blood.”

KBR’s lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, said the company will appeal.

“We will appeal the jury’s incorrect verdict,” he said. “We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before the trial.”

Harrison said the soldiers’ lawyers produced a medical expert, Dr. Arch Carson, who offered “unsupported, untested medical opinions” that each soldier had suffered invisible, cellular-level injuries as a result of their exposure to hexavalent chromium.

The verdict means the jury did not hear clear and convincing evidence that KBR intended to deceive the soldiers in the way it operated at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq. But they did find that the company failed to meet its obligations in managing the work at the plant.

Friday’s verdict closes the first phase of a web of litigation between National Guard and British troops against KBR Inc., the defense contractor they accuse of knowingly exposing them in 2003 to a carcinogen at Qarmat Ali. KBR has denied the accusations.

In Oregon another set of Oregon soldiers are waiting in the wings for their day in court. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak and the attorneys agreed earlier to hold an initial trial with the first 12 soldiers, in order to keep the proceedings from becoming too unwieldy. A second trial, featuring all or some of the remaining 21 plaintiffs, could begin in federal court in Portland this winter.

Another lawsuit brought by Indiana soldiers against KBR is on hold in federal court in Texas, while an appeals court considers a jurisdictional issue.

The cases stem from the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers hired KBR Inc. to run a massive program called Restore Iraqi Oil. The program involved dozens of sites throughout Iraq — sites that neither the Army nor KBR had visited before the invasion. The project was intended to quickly restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, partly to fund the war. The Pentagon remembered the way Saddam Hussein had lit the fields on fire during the first Gulf War, and feared a repeat in 2003.

Qarmat Ali was a compound where water was pumped underground to drive oil to the surface elsewhere. For decades, Iraqis had treated the water with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. (Sodium dichromate is banned in the United States.)

Iraq’s Southern Oil Co. took delivery of sodium dichromate, an orange-yellow crystalline powder, in bags that were stored on site. Soldiers and others testified that the material was loose and drifting around the site, and had contaminated areas even outside the chemical injection building where it was added to the water.

How contaminated was it? Accounts differ. Even one of the plaintiffs in this case said he didn’t notice any soil discoloration. One of the British soldiers whose testimony was prerecorded said it was everywhere. Another Oregon soldier said it settled heavily on the clothing of the soldiers, who unwittingly carried it back to their camps over the border in Kuwait.

Much of KBR’s defense in the first Oregon trial focused on just how unlikely it was that any soldier — who visited the plant at durations from one day to 21 days — could have been exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium dichromate. But one of the most gripping portions of the testimony was when Oregon veteran Larry Roberta described eating a chicken patty that had been coated with the orange crystals, which he said immediately burned in his esophagus, causing him to vomit.

Roberta now is confined to a wheelchair and takes oxygen from a tank in his backpack. He had a history of gastrointestinal issues, but attributes much of his poor health to his time at Qarmat Ali.

Harrison, KBR’s lawyer, said the company “believes in the judicial process and respects the efforts and time of the jurors,” but believes the process that brought the case to conclusion Friday shouldn’t have been allowed to come so far.

“KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances,” he said in a brief, prepared statement. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”

Soldier-plaintiff Arnold said the message of the verdict is unmistakable. He said service members are being exploited “to this day.”

Now, he said, “the voice will be out. There will be a lot more scrutiny.”

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Toxic Exposures, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CNA’s Deadly Paper Games and Outright Lies Condoned by the Department of Labor

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 2, 2012

How do AIG and CNA get away with telling so many lies and paying for so little ?  

They get help from those put in place to “ensure that workers’ compensation benefits are provided promptly and properly” 

The Department of Labor’s Jacksonville Florida District Office Director Charles D Lee, formerly of Liberty Mutual, gave his seal of approval to CNA’s lies by refusing to find them in default of an order that he signed himself.  It took seven years to get this order.

If Mr. Lee does not remember signing this order over two years ago he should.  While he signed the order for medical and indemnity probably without reading it, slapped a form cover letter to it,  he did not bother to determine the amount of back indemnity and interest owed which allowed CNA to not pay on time and escape the 20% per day penalty.   So few penalties apply and so little enforcement of those that do.

It took many telephone calls and finally assistance from Michael Niss, the Director, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs at the time,  to encourage him to do his job.  He was not going to do it just because an injured contractor had not received his check  and was trying to find out why.

The failure on the District Director’s part to find CNA in 18 a Default occurred despite having in his possession legitimate proof, letters from Doctors stating that they had never been approved and had in fact been denied payment.

Proof of CNA lies to the new Claims Examiner, who comes to us from KBR with a KBR attitude, are ignored by everyone in the DoL from herself, Charles D Lee, Kristina Hall, to Eric Richardson, Miranda Chui, to the DOL IG.

CNA never produced a receipt for paying back  years of Medical Care that they were responsible for and refused to provide but Charles D Lee determined that they did so based on their attorney saying  that they did. 

CNA paid for a small fraction of the past medical care, finally, 16 months after the order was signed.  While this is clearly a 16 month default during which time the claimant has this debt hanging over his head despite having an Order in place, CNA is not held responsible.  A receipt has never been produced.  Charles D Lee takes them at their word while their lies are in his hands.

No dollar value is applied to the damages caused by a refusal to provide medical care for years on end and so there is no penalty or recovery.

We talk with contractors everyday who have orders in place for medical that  never receive it. 

The lengthy efforts your attorney must go through to try, not necessarily succeed, to secure the medical care is considered to be “Janitorial” work by CNA that they should not have to pay for.

Why not continue with the Deadly Paper Games when it saves you so much money and the very people that are supposed to be looking out for the claimant condone these criminal actions?

No dollar value is applied to the temporary injuries which become permanent at the hands of CNA.

The hands of CNA, their claims examiners, and their attorneys are so gently stroked by the Departments of Labor’s Jacksonville District Office. 

The Blood is on all of their hands.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Liberty Mutual, Misjudgements, OALJ, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Veterans, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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