ILNews

Judge dismisses soldiers' toxic exposure suit

Jennifer Nelson
February 26, 2010
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A federal judge has dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction a suit brought by soldiers who were exposed while in Iraq to a toxic chemical known to increase the risk of developing cancer.

Members of the Indiana National Guard sued Texas contractors for whom the soldiers provided security at a water treatment facility in Iraq in 2003. The soldiers claimed the contractors knew the site was heavily contaminated with sodium dichromate, a toxic chemical that may increase the risk of cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.

Sixteen members filed the suit against KBR, Inc. and other contractors in December 2008, which grew to 47 plaintiffs.

The soldiers claimed they were repeatedly told by the company there was no danger on the site while they worked there, and that their bloody noses and skin lesions were a result of the dry desert air. The contaminated site was shut down in September 2003.

Using the "effects test," first articulated in Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984), to determine whether the federal court has personal jurisdiction over the suit, Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court's Southern District decided to grant the contractors' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' third amended complaint, Mark McManaway, et al. v. KBR, Inc., et al., No. 3:08-CV-186.

The plaintiffs argued the contractors' tortious actions were aimed at Indiana because they knew that the soldiers would return to Indiana after being exposed to the chemical. But the soldiers didn't establish that KBR and the other contractors knew the soldiers intended to return to Indiana after leaving Iraq, and some of the plaintiffs are now living in other states, wrote the judge. In addition, the injury occurred in Iraq when the soldiers were exposed to the chemical. While the effects of that injury may be felt in Indiana, the tort does not relocate from Iraq to Indiana, Chief Judge Young continued.

The chief judge also found the contractors' contacts with Indiana weren't sufficient to allow the court to exercise general jurisdiction over them. As such, he granted the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The contractors' two previously filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction based on the original and second amended complaints were denied as moot.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

ADVERTISEMENT