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Oregon verdict may have impact on Indiana Guardsmen’s KBR suits

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A federal jury verdict last week awarded 12 Oregon soldiers $85 million for illnesses linked to a military contractor that knowingly exposed them to toxic chromium dust in Iraq. The result could have implications for 60 similarly situated Indiana National Guard members who are awaiting their day in court.

The verdict returned in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon found military contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root acted with “reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to the health, safety, and welfare” of U.S. soldiers. The troops were stationed at a water treatment plant at Qarmat Ali, Iraq in 2003, according to a statement from Cohen & Malad LLC, one of three firms representing the Oregon soldiers in Rocky Bixby, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al, 3:09-CV-632-PK.

The Indiana Guardsmen of the 1-152 Infantry Battalion are among about 150 other soldiers who have sued claiming they were sickened by the carcinogen sodium dichromate, an orange powder the troops noticed while guarding the water facility that KBR was hired to rehabilitate. According to the statement from Cohen & Malad, the suits allege that KBR said the powder was a mild irritant after guardsmen complained of symptoms such as severe nosebleeds, difficulty breathing and debilitating headaches.

Soldiers have since suffered worsening health problems including cancer, and two have died, the statement said.

The Indiana Guardsmen’s complaint is included in McManaway, et al., vs. KBR, Inc., et al., 4:10-CV-01044, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.


 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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