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First UK Iraq Vet Sues Contractor KBR Over Alleged Toxic Exposure

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First UK Iraq Vet Sues Contractor KBR Over Alleged Toxic Exposure

Contractor also accused of misleading British military

HOUSTON, Feb. 4, 2010 – A retired Royal Air Force sergeant joined more than 80 U.S. veterans in litigation against military contractor KBR, Inc. over alleged toxic exposure at a contaminated site near Basra, Iraq, the Doyle Raizner LLP law firm announced today.

In an amended lawsuit filed today in West Virginia federal court, Andrew M. Tosh claims KBR endangered U.K. and U.S. military personnel by exposing them in 2003 to sodium dichromate – an anticorrosive chemical containing nearly pure hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen – at a water plant they guarded in Qarmat Ali, Iraq. KBR was contracted to restore the water plant to supply water to Iraqi oil wells.

According to the lawsuit, military personnel guarding the site were “unprotected against the hazards of sodium dichromate known to KBR’s managers for months and months.” KBR also is accused of manipulating air and soil testing at Qarmat Ali and of intentionally avoiding blood tests that might have confirmed the presence and extent of hexavalent chromium toxicity in civilian workers showing exposure symptoms.

The lawsuit alleges, “In fact, despite the demonstrated knowledge of elevated chromium levels in the admittedly inadequate blood testing of KBR’s civilian employees, KBR’s managers apparently deliberately told British Forces exactly the opposite.”

Tosh, 44, of Lincoln, Lincolnshire, UK, was deployed with his squadron to Basra, Iraq in May 2003 on force protection duties. His service at the Qarmat Ali site included numerous 24-hour shifts during a five-month period. A 23-year veteran of the RAF Regiment, he suffered from skin rashes during and after his deployment and prolonged chest infections while in Iraq and on return to the UK.

Tosh said, “We now know that the dusty rust-colored substance at Qarmat Ali was extraordinarily dangerous. Whilst afraid for my own long-term health and that of the numerous other RAF Regiment troops I served with in Iraq, I believe KBR management misled the militaries of the U.S. and the U.K. Too many of the men who served at Qarmat Ali were sick whilst there or became ill later. This cannot be coincidental.”

An internal KBR memo from August 8, 2003 noted that “60 percent” of the company’s civilian contractors at the site were showing symptoms of sodium dichromate exposure. Yet, shortly thereafter, the British military reported that “[b]iological monitoring test results to which we have been given access for contractors and American forces have been within normal limits.” The British report then estimated that the “environmental hazards” would have “no effects” on military personnel guarding Qarmat Ali.

Tosh is represented by Michael P. Doyle, Jeffrey L. Raizner, and Patrick M. Dennis, of Doyle Raizner LLP, of Houston, and Michael G. Simon, of Frankovitch, Anetakis, Colantonio & Simon, of Weirton, W.V. Doyle Raizner LLP and co-counsel represent 81 Iraq veterans in three cases pending in federal courts in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon.

Doyle said about half of the veterans pursuing legal claims still show signs of sodium dichromate exposure, ranging from persistent rashes and nose bleeds to severe respiratory impacts such as tumors. Two cancer deaths – including that of the commanding officer of an Indiana National Guard unit serving at Qarmat Ali, Lt. Col. James Gentry – are attributable in whole or part to the exposure, he said.

“Through this litigation and the Congressional investigation,” Doyle said, “the evidence has begun to show that KBR risked the lives of the U.S. and U.K. military personnel guarding the facility. We allege, contrary to KBR’s dubious claims, that the company continues to conceal the truth about Qarmat Ali.”

The lawsuit seeks medical monitoring costs, future medical costs, and damages related to physical impairment and disfigurement and loss of earning capacity, among other claims.

The Tosh case is “Dale Gallaher, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al.,” in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, Civil Action No. 5:09-cv-69.

More information about the Qarmat Ali litigation is available through Doyle Raizner at www.kbrlitigation.com.

Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Doyle Raizner LLP, 281.703.6000; info@powersmediaworks.com.

Short URL: http://kbrlitigation.com/?p=393

Posted by on Feb 5 2010. Filed under British Troops, Press Release, Qarmat Ali News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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