Thursday, January 7, 2016

Court Stays Decision on Balad Burn Pit


       On December 23, 2015, the Court hearing the Burn Pit Lawsuit ruled in favor of the service-members and  stayed the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the Balad Burn Pit issue. The Court also extended further discovery. The Honorable Roger W. Titus, US District Court Judge, held a hearing, on short notice, and determined that it was premature to make a decision as to  defendant Kellogg Brown & Root’s (KBR) involvement in the Balad burn pit. Click here to read the Order 352.

The service-members have alleged in filed pleadings that KBR:
  • Callously exposed and continue to expose soldiers and others to toxic smoke, ash, fumes and contaminated water,
  • Promised to design methods for and dispose of all waste in a fashion that minimized safety risks, environmental effects, and human exposures to toxic fumes, 
  • Motivated by financial gain, ignored their contractual obligations, and burned vast quantities of unsorted waste in enormous open air burn pits with no safety controls, 
  • Willfully failed to use safer, alternative means to achieve a safer method of waste disposal,
  • Owed service-members a duty to design and provide safe waste disposal services; breached that duty and proximately and directly caused harm to Plaintiffs,
  • Had a duty to hire competent personnel, and properly train and supervise them in the design and operation of the burn pits; but failed to fulfill these duties,
  • Wholesale failure to ensure it hired, trained and supervised personnel able to design and operate an adequate waste disposal system  . . . was the direct and proximate cause of injury to soldiers,
  • Had a duty to warn soldiers when KBR learned there were safety issues arising from the design and operation of the open air burn pits,
  • Entered into contractual agreements with the United States Department of Defense; and had a duty under these contracts to design and operate a safe waste disposal system . . . that operated without exposing United States Military personnel and contractors accompanying the force to hazardous substances,
  • Soldiers were the intended third party beneficiaries of these contracts, and KBR breached their obligations under these contracts by failing to design and operate a proper waste disposal system that met the terms of the contract, and the military standards incorporated by reference in the contract,
  • The Complaints also  alleges that “[t]he military did not prevent KBR from disposing of the wastes in a safe manner that would not have harmed the soldiers. The military wanted KBR to solve the burn pit problems. 
The next Court hearing has been scheduled for January 21, 2016.

The consolidated lawsuit is now proceeding in the US District Court against KBR, a government contractor. The lawsuit alleges that KBR exposed, American service members and private civilian contract workers, to dangerous and toxic fumes from its unauthorized use of open-air surface burn pits. The exposed individuals and their families brought a lawsuit against KBR for its allegedly improper use of the burn pits and for failing to warn veterans and civilians of the hazards of being exposed. 

The cases allege that prolonged exposure to the burn pits' smoke, ash and fumes that may have resulted in chronic diseases, risk of future illness and death. The lawsuit alleges that KBR burned large amounts of unsorted waste, including hazardous waste, medical waste, and human waste, at military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cases In re KBR Inc, Burn Pit Litigation, have been consolidated, and are venued in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division, before Judge Roger W. Titus.