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Protective order issued in National Guard suit

March 26, 2009

A magistrate judge has issued a protective order to preserve and maintain the confidentiality of certain documents in a lawsuit filed by members of the Indiana National Guard against a contractor working in Iraq. Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann Jr. of the Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division, handed down the protective order Wednesday following competing motions for protective order by the soldiers and the contractor in the case Mark McManaway, et al. v. KBR, Inc., et al., No. 3:08-CV-186.

The soldiers in the case filed a motion for a protective order Feb. 26; the contractor filed its motion on March 9. In his order on the competing motions, Magistrate Hussmann determined the protective order tendered by KBR should be put into place because its order pertains to disclosure by both parties. The magistrate noted the protective order will have no bearing on whether there are congressional investigations into the contractor's conduct.

Before designating any material as subject to the protective order, the designating party in good faith has to make a bona fide determination the materials include information which would result in disclosure of proprietary, business, technical, trade secret information, or information regarding the security and protection of operations in Iraq and/or Kuwait or other confidential research protected from disclosure under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(c).

Sixteen members of the Indiana National Guard initially filed suit Dec. 3, 2008, against KBR for exposing them to a toxic chemical known to increase the risk of developing cancer. The suit claims the company downplayed and ignored the danger of site contamination of sodium dichromate at a water plant in Iraq where the soldiers worked and seeks compensation for their personal injuries and damages they currently have or will likely have in the future.

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