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$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 »

Tierney and Cummings Seek Administration Help on Legislation to Save Taxpayers Billions on Insuring Federal Contractors Overseas

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 18, 2012

“IT”S TIME TO FIX THIS PROGRAM”

Washington, DC (Sept. 11, 2012)— September 17, 2012

Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting support for, and input on, H.R. 5891, The Defense Base Act Insurance Improvement Act of 2012.

“This is a common-sense bill that would save the American taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Tierney. “Numerous government audits have concluded that we are paying too much for workers’ compensation insurance for overseas government contractors, and that these workers aren’t getting what they deserve. It’s time to fix this program.”

The legislation would transition the existing Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance program to a government self-insurance program. According to a 2009 Pentagon study, this change could save as much as $250 million a year. The study found: “In the long run, the self-insurance alternative may have the greatest potential for minimizing DBA insurance costs, and it has several administrative and compliance advantages as well.”

“We are sponsoring this legislation because several audits of the current DBA program have documented enormous unnecessary costs incurred by taxpayers,” Cummings and Tierney wrote.

The existing system has been a boondoggle for private insurance companies, which have reaped enormous profits under the program. According to an Oversight Committee investigation, insurance companies providing DBA insurance in Iraq and Afghanistan have made enormous underwriting profits that are significantly higher than those of traditional workers’ compensation insurers.

The letter from Tierney and Cummings requests support for the legislation and notes that “OMB may be evaluating similar options.”

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, Political Watch, War Hazards Act, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When do CNA’s Deadly Paper Games become outright lies to Department of Labor?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 19, 2012

How about now DOL ????

Documents showed that CNA reported the highest profits margins, taking in nearly 50 percent more in premiums than it paid out in benefits.

CNA’s Deadly Paper Games

After having defaulted on an Order to provide medical to an Injured War Zone Contractor for over 15 months, after denying for six years prior, CNA provides a computer printout to the Department of Labor Claims Examiner who was charged with  investigating this Default.

Not to give undue credit here, the Claims Examiner was trying to remedy the default per her job description, not confirm that they were in default.

Here is a copy and paste of the body of the correspondence, the full document has been forwarded to the DoL IG for investigation along with computer printout they attached.

Dear Mr Lee

Pursuant to Claims Examiners Kristina Hall’s request of January 3, 2012 and as a supplement to our response dated January 9, 2012, please find enclosed a payment printout showing payments issued by CNA International to medical providers regarding Mr. Clark.  The enclosed printout also shows the recent reimbursement payment of $1,270.34.

Defendents will continue to adjust medical invoices when and as received with accompanying medical reports.
Sounds just like they are paying for Injured War Zone Contractors  Medical over the years.  The reimbursement was for Out of Pocket presented in 2009 and clearly 15 months post order.

Problem here is that these payments were not for provided medical.

One is for a final report, not diagnoses or treatment, requested by CNA prior to hearing , that really made the Doctor mad over wasting his precious time, and the rest are for Defense Medical Examination’s.  Pages 3 and 4 were with held  but we suspect they include the parade of DME’s that were demanded.

The very abusive DME’s that were required repeatedly and outside of his geographic area.  The ones that ALJ Paul C Johnson assisted CNA with.

Not only did CNA represent these DME’s as having provided medical care for this Injured War Zone Contractor when in fact they did not, they reinforced the lie by stating that they will continue to do so.

CNA is currently under investigation for just this kind of unlawful and Overly Zealous Defense in denying Defense Base Act Claims

Unless that is, the DoL IG failed to investigate previous requests or are simply failing to provide documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Defense Medical Examinations, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Veterans, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Wade Dill AIG/KBR PTSD DBA Casualty July 16th, 2006

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 15, 2012

After many years of surviving an extremely abusive and Overly Zealous Defense

Wade Dill’s  family was finally provided death benefits under the Defense Base Act

These benefits were recently taken away by the Benefits Review Board when Attorney Bruce Nicholson, who was actively pursuing a settlement with KBR/AIG’s Attorney Michael Thomas, had a contract with the widow, was an attorney with the Law Firm of Peyman Rahnama, was the attorney of record with the BRB, did not as much as respond to the Appeal.

While Bruce Nicholson is the one who apparently purposely abandoned the claim, Michael Thomas and the BRB were more than happy to carry on without notifying the widow that AIG’s appeal of her claim was unopposed.

The man I married was my prince charming.
We had grown up together.
High school sweethearts, we were married 17 ½ years.
I believe that if he had never gone over there he would still be
here today.
Something happened in Iraq.
He committed suicide the morning of July 16th, 2006
He left behind a lot of pain and two ruined lives.
I never dreamed I would be without him
and
my daughter without a father.

Our thoughts are with you today Barb

Posted in AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, T Christian Miller, Veterans, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Defense Base Act War Hazards Act: Overly Zealous Representation in Defending Against a DBA Claim

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 27, 2012

employer/carrier’s inadequate or overly zealous representation in defending against a DBA claim may be grounds for denying all or some portion of a request for WHCA reimbursement.

So Mr Rayburn how many War Hazards reimbursements has the DFEC denied

in part or whole over the following

Overly Zealous DBA Insurance Company Defense Tactics ?

The use of repeated Defense Medical Examinations with Doctors Over Paid to produce a report detrimental to the claimant, to run them through the drill

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The claims process being drug out for as long as nine years with no end in sight while the defense racks up ever more legal fees, the insco keeps charging administrative fees, not to mention the claimants attorneys fee’s, while the claimant goes without  medical and/or indemnity

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Unnecessary mileage, airfare, lodging, expenses paid out due to due coercing claimants to travel as far as five states away to attend Defense Medical Examinations, Mediations, Depositions, Hearings

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The use of private investigators, some even criminals themselves, to stalk and intimidate injured contractors and their families far beyond simply confirming a claimants status

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The use of  Third Party Administrators to handle claims processes that could easily be done without the added expense and fees.

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Unnecessary fines and interest due to non payment or late payment of  indemnity

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The financial ruination of injured contractors and their families caused by the overly zealous controverting of legitimate claims

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The Temporary Disabilities which are now Permanent due to their failure to provide medical care under the guise of investigating clearly legitimate claims.  Now the US taxpayer is responsible for disabilities far beyond what they ever had to be.

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The PTSD Suicides caused by the Insurance Companies, their claims examiners, and their attorneys

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The break up of families caused the constant pressure and abusive tactics used by the Employer/Carrier

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The forced acceptance of inadequate settlements or stipulated agreements due to starving the claimant out for years on end and/or threatening the claimant and family that if they do not accept the inadequate settlement they will make them miserable for the rest of their lives (see The Weaponization of the Defense Medical Examination)

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Unfairly denying the claimants attorneys fees in order to discourage good attorneys from handling these claims

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 12-01

XI. Miscellaneous

1. DFEC requires, before acceptance of any WHCA reimbursement claim, that the employer/carrier has made only reasonable and prudent efforts in presenting all meritorious defenses against a DBA claim without regard to whether the case is eligible for WHCA reimbursement. An employer/carrier’s inadequate or overly zealous representation in defending against a DBA claim may be grounds for denying all or some portion of a request for WHCA reimbursement.

CECILY A. RAYBURN
Director, Division of Planning, Policy and Standards

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, DBA Attorneys Fees, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, KBR, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide, Veterans, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Defense Base Act: What is a Settlement ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 21, 2012

A settlement is when the insurance company pays you a lump sum amount to close out your indemnity, your medical, or both.

It is only a settlement when you are paid a lump sum amount of money and you are done with the insurance company.

Nothing else is a settlement.

An agreement based on stipulations to pay you XX amount of money every month is not a settlement, your claim is not then settled.

And an agreement to provide your medical for your agreed upon injuries does not mean your medical is settled.  In fact it means you will continue to litigate

But these agreements do allow the Insurance Company to seek reimbursement under the War Hazards Act as though they were settled

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Liberty Mutual, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Defense of Freedom Medal Held Hostage by The Defense Base Act

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 31, 2012

WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?

The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones. 

One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal?   The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.

WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?

The company you work for is responsible for requesting  that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.

As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer.   Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.

Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim.  Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.

It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.

When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.

Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.

These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged.   ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.

KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.

Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.

For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-

The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.

We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.

If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Injured Contractors, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, War Hazards Act, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Medical bills can wreck credit, even when paid off

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 4, 2012

When CNA does not pay Walter Reed and it goes on your credit rating as a “Serious Delinquency to the Treasury Department”

When AIG does not pay Landstuhl and the government attaches your Social Security, your only source of income because they are denying your claim

When CNA, AIG, ACE “approve” your doctors and medical but do not pay the bills

When CNA does not pay laboratory fees that show up on your credit rating years later

When CNA approves your wheelchair but it is repossessed due to non payment

When a US DOL ALJ signs a useless order requiring CNA or AIG to pay your past medical bills and they boldly defy the order

Your credit has been irreparably damaged and it is you that must bear the extreme cost of their abuse, never the insurance company or those that help them get away with this

By Carla K Johnson AP  March 4, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — Mike and Laura Park thought their credit record was spotless. The Texas couple wanted to take advantage of low interest rates, so they put their house on the market and talked to a lender about a mortgage on a bigger home in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs.

Their credit report contained a shocker: A $200 medical bill had been sent to a collection agency. Although since paid, it still lowered their credit scores by about 100 points, and it means they’ll have to pay a discount point to get the best interest rate. Cost to them: $2,500.

A growing number of Americans could encounter similar landmines when they refinance or take out a loan. The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that sponsors health care research, estimates that 22 million Americans were contacted by collection agencies for unpaid medical bills in 2005. That increased to 30 million Americans in 2010.

Surprisingly, even after the bills have been paid off, the record of the collection action can stay on a credit report for up to seven years, dragging down credit scores and driving up the cost of financing a home. An estimated 3.4 million Americans have paid-off medical debt lingering on their credit reports, according to the Access Project, a research group funded by health care foundations and advocates of tougher laws on medical debt collectors.

Among them are Nathen and Melissa Cobb of Riverton, Ill., who tried to refinance their home last year. They didn’t qualify for the loan because of $740 in medical bills that had been sent to a collection agency. The Cobbs were surprised because the bills — nearly a dozen small copayments ranging from $6 to $280 — had been paid before they tried to refinance. The collection action took their credit score from good to mediocre and is likely to mar their credit report for years.

“I’m not one of those people trying to ditch out on my bills,” 34-year-old Melissa Cobb said. “I’m really frustrated.”

Medical bills make up the majority of collection actions on credit reports, and most are for less than $250, according to Federal Reserve Board research.

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Consequences of Pursuit of Profit: All Protected by DBA’s Exclusive Remedy at the expense of the US taxpayer

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 7, 2012

That dispute led to the under-equipment and under-preparation of the security team on which the four Blackwater employees died.   Their deaths led the military to launch an invasion of Fallujah.

So here it is: A contract dispute led to a major development in a major war of the United States – and that is Paul’s point.

David Isenberg at PMC Observer

Reduced to its essentials every argument and debate about the use of private military and security contractors comes down to two words; outsourcing and privatization. The argument is simply whether they are good and bad.
Personally I think that, like most other things, the answer is maybe. Hey, if you want absolutes take up physics.

But lately, partly I suppose, in response to the predictable quadrennial Republican party blather about the glories of the free market – cue the inevitable segue into why America needs a purported businessman like Mitt Romney to “fix America” – my repressed academic side has been pondering the pitfalls of privatizing the battlefield.

Before going any further let me acknowledge the contribution and sacrifice of PMSC personnel. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much depended on such an unacknowledged few.

That said, let’s turn to one of the iconic contractor moments of the U.S.involvement in Iraq; the killing of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004.

Last year law professor Arthur J. Jacobson of Yeshiva University publishedan article in the  Cardozo Law Review.   The occasion was a symposium in honor of Paul R. Verkuil, who is on the Cardozolaw school faculty. Verkuil is author of the 2007 book Outsourcing Sovereignty: How Privatization of Government Functions Threatens Democracy And What We Can Do About It.

In his article, Outsourcing Incompetence: An Essay in Honor of Paul Verkuil Jacobson provides some detail regarding that tragic day that is not appreciated by the public.  I realize the following quote is long but it is necessary to appreciate the true impact of what happened.

The four Blackwater employees who were dismembered and mutilated in Fallujah, where they ended up while guarding a convoy, is a grim reminder of how the military must react to contractor actions. The Marines had to secure that city after that gruesome event, which was not in their plans beforehand.

Paul’s conclusion about the Fallujah incident is ineluctable. The Department of Defense, it appears, outsourced to Blackwater a task that it regarded as amenable to outsourcing, rather than as an inherent government function. Were the Department of Defense to offer a justification of this decision, they would argue that providing security to a supply convoy is akin to an ordinary civilian security operation – like night watchmen at a construction site or armed guards accompanying an armored car – and is thus distinguishable from combat, which, as most today would probably agree, is
an inherent government function.  But the reality of a theater in combat does not permit so fine a distinction to be drawn.  The Blackwater employees had necessarily to engage in combat, and their defeat drew the Marines into a combat operation they had neither desired nor planned. Contracting with Blackwater to provide security for convoys thus wound up diverting the United States military from operations they had in fact planned, and calling into question the competence of a military that could so unwittingly be the cause of its own distraction.

Paul’s Blackwater story is bad enough. The real story is worse. I asked Erik Wilson, a captain in the United States Marine Corps and a first-year law student at Cardozo, to look into the Fallujah incident a little more closely. Here is what he found.

The U.S. Army did not hire Blackwater directly. The prime contract, part of the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), was between the Army and Halliburton. It was a contract to supply Camp Ridgeway, an Army base near Fallujah.

Halliburton then subcontracted the supply contract to KBR, and KBR subcontracted it to ESS. It was ESS that hired Blackwater to provide security for the convoys to Camp Ridgeway. Four subcontracts connect, or separate, Blackwater from the ultimate recipient of its services. That looks like an awfully long chain of subcontracts. But things were not so simple.

Let’s start with the top of the chain. It was actually KBR’s predecessor, Brown & Root, and not Halliburton, that had the first LOGCAP contract with the Army. This was back in the 1990s, at the beginning of the LOGCAP program. In 2002, Halliburton created KBR (merging two of its subsidiaries, Brown & Root and M.W. Kellogg), and replaced the former Brown & Root as the prime contractor. Halliburton was thus the prime contractor at the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003. The LOGCAP contract Halliburton signed at that point, known as LOGCAP III, was the second renegotiation of the initial LOGCAP contract between the Army and Brown & Root. Halliburton’s role under LOGCAP III was only to guarantee KBR’s services, and the Army and other federal auditing agencies dealt directly with KBR, not with Halliburton. Halliburton was involved in LOGCAP III only because it owned KBR. Thus, after Halliburton divested itself of KBR in 2007, KBR once again became the prime contractor in the LOGCAP IV contract, which is just now coming into
effect.

Now let us consider the bottom of the chain. ESS did not hire Blackwater directly. It hired Blackwater through a proxy company, Regency Hotel and Hospital Company of Kuwait. What happened was this: Regency and Blackwater had submitted a joint proposal to replace ESS’s existing private security contractor, Control Risks Group. Once Regency/Blackwater won the contract, they renegotiated it to make Regency ESS’s subcontractor and, in turn, make
Blackwater Regency’s subcontractor. Apparently Blackwater wanted this arrangement so it could get exclusive credit for the successful security operations.

The presence of Regency in the chain is important because a dispute erupted between Blackwater and Regency about the armoring of the vehicles to be used in protecting the convoys. According to Captain Wilson, Blackwater used its
subcontractor status to “blackmail” Regency, saying that Regency now had to provide weapons, armor, and other supplies, and that Blackwater would not supply them. The apparent aim of this strategy was to get Regency either to pay for Blackwater’s supplies or default on their contract, which Blackwater would try to take over at an increased profit once Regency was no longer in the way. Captain Wilson believes that Blackwater probably could not have gotten the security contract on its own and that it teamed with Regency for credibility, then tried to cut Regency out.

Partially as a result of this dispute between Regency and Blackwater over equipment funding, the Blackwater team was extremely underequipped and underprepared for the March 31, 2004, mission in which four Blackwater employees died.

I want to pause here in telling the story to make a comment. Outsourcing government tasks to a firm in the private economy subjects those tasks to the push and pull of the economy. I do not have the illusion, and neither does Paul, that elements of the bureaucracy are without their own motivations and distortions, but when you sign up with the private economy, you agree to participate in the private economy’s motivations and distortions. Let’s be blunt. There was a dispute between Regency and Blackwater over who would pay to armor the security for the convoys. That dispute led to the under-equipment and under-preparation of the security team on which the four Blackwater employees died. Their deaths led the military to launch an invasion of Fallujah. So here it is: A contract dispute led to a major development in a major war of the United States – and that is Paul’s point.

Please go to David’s blog and read the entire post

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Appointment of Miranda Chiu DIRECTOR, DLHWC

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 28, 2011

This news release at the DoL’s website is NOT dated but this was a recent appointment though she has been in the position for nearly a year now.

Miranda Chiu  is much appreciated by the Defense Attorneys

Dropping the DBA Ball

She did not even implement her own policies, regulations, and procedures

Looks like DBA Claimants are in for a lot more of the same bias in favor of the insurance companies if the last nine years serve as an indicator

The Office of Workers’ Comp Programs announces the appointment of Ms. Miranda Chiu as the Director of the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Ms. Chiu has served as Acting Director of the Longshore Division for the last eight months, and as the Division’s Chief of the Branch of Policies, Regulations and Procedures for eight years before that.

Ms. Chiu has extensive experience in Longshore claims. She worked in various capacities in the Longshore arena for thirty years, beginning as a Claims Examiner in the San Francisco Longshore district office, then as a maritime claims supervisor in private industry and a legal assistant at a major Longshore law firm, before taking on her duties as Branch Chief in 2002.

Ms. Chiu holds a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature, and has published a lead article in ‘The Longshore Textbook’, 2nd and 3rd Editions. She is a frequent speaker at industry seminars and educational events and has won numerous awards for her work at the Department of Labor

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 26, 2011

Today  Injured War Zone Contractors and Scott Bloch filed a

Class Action Lawsuit

against the

Defense Base Act Insurance Companies

and some Employers.

Scott Bloch files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like

KBR, Blackwater/Xe, DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting

and the global insurance carriers

AIG, CNA, ACE, Zurich,

on behalf of thousands of former employees,

for

unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of

injured employees and their families  

Brink Vs. CNA et al

The Defense Base Act Compensation blog and it’s contributors invite you to

Join our Class Action here

The truth will be exposed

WASHINGTON, DC (September 26, 2011)

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public.  The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democractic institutions.  We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights.  This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States.  It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long.  We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”),  as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.   These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
“These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch.  “Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats.  The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment.  These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years.  They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.

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

Posted in Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Dyncorp, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Ronco Consultilng, State Department, Suicide, Toxic Exposures, USAID, Veterans, Wackenut, War Hazards Act, Whistleblower, Xe, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

War Hazards Act pays Insurance Companies more for expenses than to Claimants for compensation

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 9, 2011

“Over the past six years  (does  not include 2010) under the WHCA,
the federal government has paid more in reimbursements to insurers for expenses
$19.7 million
than it has paid in compensation to claimants
$12.1 million”
There is evidence that the current process, in which the federal government identifies WHCA claims after they have been paid as DBA claims and then reimburses insurers for claim and administrative costs, results in the federal government paying significant amounts that do not go directly to claimants.
Over the past six years under the WHCA, the federal government has paid more in reimbursements to insurers for expenses ($19.7 million) than it has paid in compensation
to claimants ($12.1 million).
There is also evidence, including testimony provided by DBA and WHCA claimants at a 2009 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, that in some cases, claimants with injuries that clearly fall under the statutory requirements of the WHCA must first navigate procedural and other requirements of their contractors’ DBA insurers before their cases are eventually transferred to DOL.
In some cases, DBA insurers controvert claims or oppose specific benefits for claims that are likely to end up at the DOL under the WHCA. Under the current system, insurers have the right and responsibility to investigate all claims and controvert or oppose claims and benefits they feel are not their responsibility or that fall outside of the DBA.
However, this can cause delays for claimants, including claimants with clear WHCA cases that will eventually be paid by the DOL.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, DBA Attorneys Fees, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

So Just who is the Insurer?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 14, 2011

Posted by Brit Guy

Below is part of the document issued by the insurers to employers the document is called:

International Voluntary Workers’ Compensation and Employers ‘Liability Coverage Form

Page 10 Part Five Conditions

1. DEFENSE BASE ACT

2. It is understood and agreed that no premium will be charged, and no portion of the rating is for any benefits which may become payable under the provision of the War Hazards Compensation Act and any subsequent amendments or modification thereto. It is understood the United States Government self-insures these exposures and will reimburse the company for any and all losses falling under the act, so long as no charge is made for the coverage by the company.

Link to WHCA     http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/whca.htm

Let me use my case as an example.

WHCA

(3) The discharge or explosion of munitions intended for use in connection with a war or armed conflict with a hostile force or person as defined herein

 

Three investigations have been carried out by the US Government

1. The DoD after the incident
2. The DoL to establish right to benefits
3. The Dept of the Army to establish entitlement to the Defense of Freedom Medal. (Which I have been awarded) You only get this if injured as a direct result of enemy or insurgent action

Three Government agencies have established that the vehicle I was in was hit by a discharge of munitions as an act of war (declared or not) This clearly puts me under the WHCA

If the document above is to be believed then my insurer should be the US Government and the employer/carrier is now an administrator of my case.

The administrator (Employer/carrier) appoint another company to administer the claim i.e. to arrange medical care, make appointments, arrange DME’s. This obviously comes at a price so increases the cost of the claim.

So it would appear that I now have two administrators and one insurer.

The insurer (US Government) at an informal conference arranged by the DoL (A department of the US Government) agree to pay benefits and provide medical care.  Administrator one the employer/carrier refuse to comply.

They appoint their legal team again at a cost to fight it and my attorney is forced to file for a formal hearing (again increasing the cost) in front of an ALJ to make the administrator (Employer/carrier) comply with the insurers (US Government) wish’s.

In this time of austerity and the increasing spotlight on government waste around the world it is somewhat staggering that the claimant is forced to take the administrator (Employer/carrier) to court to get what the insurer (US Government) has agreed to pay and that the administrator (Employer/carrier) even if they lose can then go back to the insurer (US Government) ask for their money back and charge 15% for doing so. The cost of this claim could be so much reduced if they just followed the insurers (US Government’s) wish’s.

I am not a legal expert and I am sure that people will argue that what is above is not the case. If you read the documents and the facts of the investigations it is hard to see it in any other way.

One last point if an ALJ agrees with the administrator (employer/carrier) is this the end for me? Well I can only assume not.

Why well because as I have said the insurer (US Government) have agreed to pay.

So as I see it the administrator (Employer/carrier) is going to a formal hearing to argue that they should not be paid.

At last they are doing the right thing.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Yes, there is a Longshore Conference March 24-25, 2011

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 10, 2011

Annual Longshore Conference Spring 2011

Loyola Again of course and promoting Roger Levy’s Latest Edition of the DBA/WHCA  Book

NEW LOCATION!

InterContinental Hotel New Orleans, Louisiana

March 24 – 25, 2011

Will update with registration links

Schedule

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, OALJ, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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