National Guard Veterans Allowed to Proceed Against KBR
A US District Court Judge in Oregon has ruled that national guard veterans will be allowed to proceed in a suit against KBR (Kellog Brown and Root) for their exposure to sodium dichromate and resultant hexavalent chromium poisoning while stationed as Oregon National Guardsmen in Iraq and assigned to duty at the Qarmat Ali water plant in 2003. The soldiers allege serious injuries and adverse health effects because of their exposure to sodium dischromate at the Qarmat Ali plant.
KBR entered into a contract with the US Military to provide logistical support during the Iraq conflict. The injured soldiers alleged that KRB was negligent and committed fraud in connection with the provision of services under the contract.
In Court permitted the claim to go forward against KBR for the soldiers, "...exposure to sodium dichromate and resultant hexavalent chromium poisoning while stationed as Oregon National Guardsmen in Iraq and assigned to duty at the Qarmat Ali water plant in 2003 [for the failure of KBR to take] precautions to safeguard personnel who might potentially be exposed to environmental hazards at worksites, including the wearing of protective gear and/or the closing down of operations at any unsafe site."
The Court held,"Defendants here assert that their "provision of engineering and logistical support services at Qarmat Ali" took place pursuant to the specifications of a contract with the government, and that they did not exceed their authority under those specifications. On this basis, defendants argue that they were merely "executing the will of the United States" and are entitled to the benefits of derivative sovereign immunity. The evidentiary record belies both of defendants' assertions."
A lawsuit is currently pending against Kellog Brown & Root (KBR) and Halliburton on behalf of soldiers who were exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.