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KBR Ordered to Pay $85 Million to U.S. Soldiers


Oregon jury awards plaintiffs represented by Cohen & Malad, LLP, Doyle Raizner, LLP, and Oregon attorney David Surgerman $85 million in case against military contractor KBR.

Indianapolis, Indiana (PRWEB) November 06, 2012

An Oregon jury found that 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 stationed at an Iraqi water treatment plant located at Qarmat Ali, Iraq, which KBR knew was highly contaminated with the Class 1 carcinogen sodium dichromate, according to documents from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon case 3:09-CV-632-PK. The jury listened to arguments for three weeks before making its decision to award $85 million to the 12 Oregon soldiers. Plaintiff's counsel has stated that an additional 150 soldiers are awaiting trial in the District of Oregon and in the Southern District of Texas, including approximately 60 members of the Indiana National Guard who spent considerably more time at the sodium dichromate contaminated plant than the 12 Oregon soldiers.

KBR was hired by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to rehabilitate the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant and guardsmen from Oregon, Indiana, West Virginia, and South Carolina provided security for KBR. Shortly after arriving at the facility, guardsmen noticed the presence of an orange crystal-like powder covering much of the ground and blowing in the air. This powder proved to be sodium dichromate, a known carcinogen made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich.

According to court documentation, after spending a few days at the facility, guardsmen were sickened and suffered symptoms such as severe nosebleeds, difficulty breathing and debilitating headaches. The guardsmen notified KBR officials of the situation but were repeatedly told by KBR that the chemical was merely a mild irritant. Guardsmen were finally pulled from the facility after KBR officials were seen on site dressed in hazmat suits while guardsmen were not provided any safety equipment or respiratory masks. The guardsmen's symptoms continued to worsen even after returning home. Some of these men have developed a variety of ailments, including cancer, and two have died from interstitial lung disease.

Lawyers from three firms represented the Oregon soldiers. Texas attorney Mike Doyle of Doyle Raizner, LLP, as well as Oregon attorney David Sugerman and Gabe Hawkins of Cohen & Malad, LLP spent hundreds of hours deposing KBR officials, reviewing reports, and meeting with the soldiers and their families in preparation for this trial.

“After working on this case for five years, accumulating more than 100,000 miles of airline travel, and attending the funerals of two of my clients, it was extraordinarily rewarding to see the reactions of the twelve Oregon Guardsmen to the verdict and to see that the verdict from 12 American taxpayers who paid for KBR's actions at Qarmat Ali. I look forward to bringing the other 150 cases to trial and to defending this verdict on appeal,” said Gabe Hawkins of Cohen & Malad, LLP.

The Indiana National Guardsmen are currently awaiting their day in court in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division Cause No. 4:10-CV-01044. There are approximately 60 Indiana guardsmen who served in the 1-152 Infantry Battalion who were allegedly exposed to the toxin and worry every day about the impact that it is having on their bodies.

About Cohen & Malad, LLP
Cohen & Malad, LLP, was founded in 1968 by former Indiana Attorney General John J. Dillon, Louis F. Cohen and others. Since that time, Cohen & Malad, LLP, has garnered a national reputation. The firm is focused in the areas of class action, personal injury, business litigation, family law, appellate law, and commercial real estate & business services.

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