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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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