Monday, December 10, 2012

Another lawsuit against never-our-fault! KBR

Karen McCowan (Register-Guard) reports on Iraq War veteran Gregory Gordon Carr Gibb's lawsuit against Haliburton over KBR's use of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium at the Qarmat Ali water plant in Basra.  McCowan notes:

In public statements, KBR has asserted that the Army, not it, was responsible for making sure the site was safe for workers. The company is asking the federal judge in the Portland case to issue a “judgment as a matter of law” in KBR’s favor, which could supercede the jury decision. If he declines to do so, the company said it may appeal the decision, based on what it called KBR’s indemnity rights under the Restore Iraqi Oil contract with the U.S. Army.

For those who've forgotten, nothing is ever KBR's fault.  When they were sued for the deaths and injuries of their truck drivers in Iraq, KBR, as Laurel Brubaker Calking and Margaret Cronin Fisk (Bloomberg News) reported in January 2009, "filed a request in court to tell a jury that the U.S. Army and Iraqi terrorists are responsible for deaths and injuries to company truck drivers in Iraq in 2004."  Nothing is ever KBR's fault. 

New clause in all federal contracts might be needed to require companies to take accountability for their own actions.  And how about criminal fines and penalties when they try to conceal evidence?

Back in April,  at the Doyle Raizner lawfirm's website, Matt Finkelstein explained  the latest revelations of what KBR thought they could hide this time:

New documents recently uncovered show that military contractor KBR was aware of contamination at its Qarmat Ali water treatment plan in Iraq at least as early as January 2003. KBR had previously claimed that it was only aware of chemical contamination at the site from sodium dichromate after U.S. National Guardsmen began showing symptoms of exposure.
The newly uncovered documents, however, including an environmental assessment performed by KBR for the U.S. government prior to even the invasion of Iraq, show that KBR was aware that 8 million pounds of sodium dichromate had been ordered for use at the site and that KBR was expecting the facility to be kept in "lamentable" conditions.
Doyle Raizner represents U.S. National Guardsmen and members of the British Royal Air Force who suffered injuries due to their exposure to sodium dicromate in Iraq. The documents were uncovered as part of discovery in the lawsuit after KBR had continued to deny that they were aware of the potentially toxic chemicals until soldiers became ill. The U.S. Department of Defense cited KBR in a September 2011 report for, among other things, failing to act quickly in warning or protecting soldiers and civilians from exposure to sodium dicromate.

 Mike Francis (Oregonian) noted last week, "Jurors last month awarded 12 Oregon soldiers a total of $85 million for the company's negligence in exposing them to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant near Basra, Iraq, in 2003."

Also at the same water treatemtn plant was Iraq War veteran Russell Powell who testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on October 8, 2009:

Russell Powell: After a few weeks of being at the facility, several personnel began getting lesions on their hands, arms, faces and nostril area.  As a medic, I felt very concerned for the safety and health of persons exposed.  I questioned of the KBR workers, I have forgotten his name, and he told me that his supervisors told him not to worry about it, that we were allergic to sand and dust.  Shortly there after, there was another severe dust storm.  I ate an MRE and my throat and stomach began to burn like nothing I have felt before.  My nose began to bleed and I was nauseated.  After this particular storm, I was severely sick to the point that when we returned to Kuwait City, Kuwait, I was told that I was not going out on the mission the following day.  The following day, I went to the infirmary at Camp Commando and was seen by a Naval doctor.  After a brief examination, he dismissed me as being sick and prescribed me Motrin and Tylenol.  Approximately thirty minutes later, I went to a bombshell bunker to give myself an IV, a couple soldiers found me.  I was delirious and coughing up blood.  I do not remember anything until waking up the following day in the Kuwait Soldiers Hospital.  My face and lips were burnt and my throat was sore to the point I couldn't swallow anything.  I was there for almost a week getting antibiotics intravenously.  The doctors had no explanation why I was sick or why my face and lips were burnt so badly.  The day I was released from the hospital, I returned to Qarmat Ali with Charlie Company 2nd platoon.  Upon my return to Qarmat Ali, numerous soldiers were complaining of the same symptoms I was experiencing.  I prescribed those soldiers antibiotics; however, the symptoms persisted.  At the end of June 2003, the Indiana National Guard relieved us of our duties.  Our unit moved into northern Iraq.  The nose bleeds subsided a little, but the nausea was still present daily.  After leaving Iraq in April 2004, I went to the VA clinic in Clarksburg, West Virginia to talk to the doctors about my skin rashes and lesions, stomach problems and nose bleeds.  The doctors were unable to determine what the cause is of these problems.  In 2009, I received a letter from the West Virginia National Guard stating we were possibly exposed to Sodium Dichromate while serving at Qarmat Ali  and the VA doctors believe that this could be what's causing my health issues, but because they know little about Sodium Dichromate, they are researching and trying to figure out the affects of it on the human body. 

In other news, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
United States Senate
112th Congress, Second Session
Hearing Schedule
Update: December 7, 2012
Wednesday December 12, 2012 10:00am
Hearing: Nomination of Keith Kelly to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training and William S. Greenberg to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Matthew T. Lawrence
Chief Clerk / System Administrator
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Isaiah has a new comic that'll go up this morning.  On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Hammond, guest Shawn Griffith joins for a discussion on the US prison population and International Law Professor Francis A. Boyle joints the host to discuss Palestinians. 

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