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Recent developments in the case against Halliburton/KBR

By Michael Doyle | Doyle Raizner LLP
There have been several important developments in the fight to uncover KBR’s conduct in knowingly exposing the men at KBR’s Qarmat Ali project to dangerous toxins.  But first, it is with great sadness that all of us express our condolences to Sabrina and the McManaway family on Mark’s passing.  The Indiana/Texas lawsuit was brought in Mark’s name, and we will continue the fight in his name and for his family and the men with whom he served.

Recent developments in a number of areas:

Discovering the truth: KBR has made several bids to block discovery into their actions at Qarmat Ali.  KBR has filed yet more motions to dismiss the suits, and as part of those motions, they have asked that all discovery be blocked while the judge considers the motions.  However, at a hearing on July 9, 2010, United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore in Houston federal court rejected KBR’s demand that all discovery be blocked and its managers not be required to testify under oath about what they knew about the hazards to the men at Qarmat Ali, when they knew it, and what KBR management should have been doing from the beginning of KBR’s project to protect our soldiers, British troops, and the men actually on the ground at Qarmat Ali doing the work.  Even after that ruling, KBR has refused to comply with its discovery obligations, so another hearing with the Court may be necessary.

Oregon Hearing on KBR’s Immunity Claims: At a hearing on July 12, 2010 before Judge Paul Papak in federal court in Oregon, the Court heard KBR’s demand for immunity for any misconduct at Qarmat Ali. KBR asserted that it was engaged in “combatant activities” during the routine work of site inspection and restoration of Iraqi Oil over many months, as well as entitled to “political question doctrine” immunity as an agent of the United States Army.  Judge Papak was able to hear about the June testimony of retired Brigadier General Robert Crear, the Corp of Engineers officer in overall command of Task Force Restore Iraq Oil (RIO), who confirmed that Project RIO was neither a combat nor combat support tasking.  More significantly, recently uncovered internal KBR documents confirmed that KBR was told at the outset of the need to advise the Army immediately of hazards at any of the work sites, including Qarmat Ali, and Gen. Crear confirmed that KBR was entrusted with the direct responsibility for both identifying hazards at Qarmat Ali, including sodium dichromate, and ensuring that all the men at the site were properly notified and protected by KBR at KBR’s project.  Judge Papak has in the past ruled swiftly on motions, and we are hopeful we will receive a decision on these motions within the next 30 to 60 days.

KBR’s “indemnity” demands for a bail out from the taxpayers: Recent testimony from KBR lawyer Christopher Heinrich has revealed that after securing the “no bid” contract KBR in March 2003, KBR demanded “full indemnification”, or taxpayer bailout, of any responsibility of KBR for any misconduct causing death or injury to our soldiers, Coalition forces, and civilian workers at KBR’s projects.  KBR made this demand after entering into the “no bid” contract, and apparently refused to honor its obligations to the government and the men and women serving in Iraq unless the government acceded to their demands.  This revelation has led to calls in Congress for answers about whether KBR actually made such a demand of the Pentagon, whether it was added-on after the fact to the no-bid contract, and whether anyone on behalf of the United States has agreed with KBR’s demand for reimbursement of any and all costs, including attorneys’ fees in justifying its conduct at Qarmat Ali.

VA Qarmat Ali initiative: The United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs has announced a new initiative at clinics in Oregon, Indiana, West Virginia, and other facilities providing care to impacted soldiers to more appropriately screen, document, and address the health effects on our soldiers.

West Virginia: The Court in the West Virginia suit dismissed the case there on the grounds that KBR does not do enough business in that state to exercise jurisdiction there.  This essentially is the same ruling that the Indiana judge made.  While we disagree with this ruling, we anticipate joining the West Virginia soldiers to the Houston suit shortly.

We will continue to keep you updated,
and as always, check out our updates at |

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