Court Strikes Blow to KBR in Oregon Soldiers' Lawsuit

Chip Shields

This is big news.

Julie Sullivan at The Oregonian has the story:

An Oregon Army National Guard soldiers' lawsuit against war contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root over exposure to a cancer-causing chemical will go forward, a federal judge ruled Friday in Portland.

U.S. District Judge Magistrate Paul Papak denied KBR's motion to dismiss the case, saying the court in Oregon does have jurisdiction.

The ruling is a significant step for 21 Oregon soldiers who claim they were intentionally exposed to the chemical hexavalent chromium after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Troops from Oregon and two other states were ordered to guard employees of the Houston-based holding company and its four subsidiaries, which were restoring oil production in southern Iraq.

The soldiers claim that at the Qarmat Ali water plant, KBR ignored and downplayed the health risks of a corrosion-fighter scattered across the facility that contained hexavalent chromium. Soldiers sued alleging lung and other health problems as a result.

Last session, Reps. Brent Barton, Suzanne VanOrman, Greg Matthews and Sen. Martha Schrader and I worked to pass HB 3480, which marked this tragedy for history and provided some very modest financial assistance to those who contracted cancer due to KBR's gross negligence and deceit.  This financial assistance will be repaid to the state if KBR loses in court.

Our entire federal delegation, and particularly Senator Ron Wyden (pdf), Senator Jeff Merkley and Rep. Kurt Schrader have been incredible advocates for these soldiers.

To watch NBC's story on this topic from December 2009, click here .

Congratulations to vets Scott Ashby, Rocky Bixby and Larry Roberta who worked with me on HB 3480. You can watch their testimony on HB 3480 here:

A hat tip too to their attorneys David Sugerman and Michael Doyle .

And finally, a very special thanks to The Oregonian's Julie Sullivan for her tremendous reporting that has not only brought this tragedy to light, but has also helped many vets and active soldiers become aware of their exposure so that they can get the help they deserve.

Comments

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Hexavalent Chromium has been a regulated carcinogen in the United States for well over 30 years. The exposure rates and handling precautions are well established and recognizeable. That KBR chose to ignore some basic safety precautions and adequate handling techniques is unforgiveable.

    I fervantly hope for the expose soldiers and former KBR employees to prevail.

  • coa (unverified)
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    Our entire federal delegation, and particularly Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley and Rep. Kurt Schrader have been incredible advocates for these soldiers.

    Sorry, Chip, but you are just propagandizing for those doing the minimum to help victims, along with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, that they create. And you ought to be ashamed of yourself for doing that, but you're a typical stupid, selfish, supposedly "progressive" Oregonian. From an informed perspective, these guys have the power to stop business-as-usual, but they don't:

    Civilian Killings in Afghanistan: A Pattern of Brutality, Denial, Outrage and Violence http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/40539

    Collateral Murder http://www.collateralmurder.com/

  • coa (unverified)
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    Maybe you can tell us what these guys are actually doing to put the power and prestige of their offices to defend COs and to bring those who torture to justice.

  • coa (unverified)
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    Boy, the silence of the Blue Frauds here is deafening. So we'll turn it up a notch, so Shields do you think this soldier profiled by Chris Hedges sees the likes of Wyden, Merkley, and Shrader, or you, Barton, VanOrman, Matthews and the other Schrader, as the "good guys"?

    One Marine’s ‘Liberty Walk’ for the Rest of Us

  • mlw (unverified)
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    Thanks for your support of these soldiers, Sen. Shields. For too long, companies like KBR have hidden behind bogus privileges for federal contractors, claiming that they were just abiding by the terms of their (often sole source) contracts, or negotiating hold harmless clauses with the government. Here is a case where the contractor knowingly put lives at risk. They deserve to be held liable.

    As for the misinformed souls above, they apparently forget the restoring Iraqi oil production is the surest way to get US soldiers out of Iraq. A self-sufficient Iraq is an Iraq that our soldiers don't have to guard and stabilize.

  • coa (unverified)
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    As for the misinformed souls above, they apparently forget the restoring Iraqi oil production is the surest way to get US soldiers out of Iraq. A self-sufficient Iraq is an Iraq that our soldiers don't have to guard and stabilize.

    mlw, are you being a smart aleck, or are you really that morally depraved? It's hard to tell from your superficial gratuitous comment, but if you want it taken at face value, you are truly are a person whose soul is rotten to the core.

    Nice scum you have defending and complementing you Shields. Hope it makes you proud.

    And remember, if we had not engaged in an illegal war in Iraq and Afghanistan with the full complicity of Democrats, we wouldn't have a KBR issue in the first place. When you lie swim in sewer, you stink when you get out.

  • Alisa Anderson (unverified)
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    I'm starting a new job this week, and the guy I'm replacing used to work for KBR. His take was that while corps like Bechtel have made their name doing engineering in difficult situations, KBR's speciality is breaking teh law. You know, sometimes your black bag jobs get complicated and you need real engineers. They keep quiet and pay some civil fines, but are recompensed by the Gov with new contracts and the like, using your tax dollars. That's what they do. Cheney was as pure KBR as it gets. Look at how he was used in the Bush admin. That's how KBR is used. So, this is kind of a duh, you employ a hit man and then complain that he doesn't follow good labor practices. The question that true Blues will never raise is why your guy is still using them the same way that Bush did. Grow up and face facts. Baby Bush was an international bully that took civilians, on the flimsiest of evidence, and locked them up in Gitmo, with no due process. We now know that many were totally innocent. The "opposition party's" "hope and change" candidate has kept his campaign promise and is ending that. His policy is to shoot dirty bearded men in the face, without having improved the reliability of the intel one iota. Bush started renditions. BHO has added a CIA minder to the process. Bush claimed a grey area in international law. Those cases have wound their way through local courts, and BHO has no such luxury. The behavior has been found to be found criminal in Italian and other local courts. BHO acts as an outlaw knowingly.

    I can't imagine why some people think we pay enough in taxes already. You add the cost of this illegal op here and that nonstate action there and, by and by, that adds up to real money!

    Alisa in Tillamook

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    If "coa" wants anyone to take him/her seriously he will just have to post her name in full like most of the rest of us.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    coa and Alisa in Tillamook are right-on!

    Lee Coleman, if you can't argue the invincible truth of what coa is posting, just admit it, rather than making an excuse.

    Yes, tomorrow is War-Tax Day. Over 50% of the total federal budget is, in one way or another, related to the military. Approaching $1.5 trillion annually, related to the military.

    And the employment of the private-contractors only continues to rise. And the collateral murder continues to occur, practically daily, as witnessed by the other day US military shooting up a civilian-passenger bus in Afghanistan. And informed sources say that the drone attacks that produce collateral damage are also war crimes.

    Who is for defunding this? Kucinich? Barbara Lee, and a couple of others?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    The crime cited in this post is but one of many involving the cohorts of our war department. "Betraying our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War" by Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman reveals much more but still only part of this vile and squalid story. The book also brings out the best and worst of our men in uniform. Some were courageous in defense of the men and women serving under them; others lacked the moral courage to do so.

    And what did our elected representatives do to protect these troops? Especially, those on the armed services committees in the house and the senate. What they are paid to do. Shovel more good money after bad into the maws of the military-industrial-mercenary complex.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Court Strikes Blow to KBR in Oregon Soldiers' Lawsuit "

    But when the case reaches the supreme (?) court, the corporate wing of that branch of government will take care of their friends at KBR.

  • coa (unverified)
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    If "coa" wants anyone to take him/her seriously he will just have to post her name in full like most of the rest of us.

    Lee, I could are less if you believe ME, the linked material speaks for itself.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
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    <h2>Reading this whole thread, I think everyone is violently in agreement.</h2>

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