Contracts between the Pentagon and defense contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root grant the company complete immunity in Iraq for harm its employees may cause to either Iraqi civilians or American and other coalition soldiers.
That immunity – cited by KBR in defending itself against an Oregon workplace injury lawsuit – has prompted Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat who represents much of the Portland area, to demand an explanation from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to The Oregonian. In his letter to Gates, Blumenauer called the blanket liability exemption “mind-numbing”.
The newspaper reports that the exemption came to light as part of a lawsuit filed by 26 Oregon National Guardsmen who served in Iraq in 2003. The troops were assigned to guard KBR employees undertaking reconstruction work. The guardsmen claim that “the contractor knowingly or negligently exposed them to a cancer-causing chemical” the newspaper reports. A similar suit is also being considered by courts in Indiana.
The company has argued that the exemption – which was originally kept secret – immunizes it from any liability concerning injuries the soldiers may have suffered while guarding its activities.
This case is a reminder of the important role an Oregon personal injury lawyer can play in resolving claims related to Oregon workplace accidents – especially those which may have resulted in a wrongful death. Consulting with a Portland industrial accident attorney can be an important first step in determining what recourse you may have following an industrial accident – particularly one whose origins can be traced to negligence on the part of the company. Holding powerful private-sector companies responsible for the damage they cause is one of the most important functions with which a Portland industrial liability lawyer can assist you.
The Oregonian: Blumenauer demands that Pentagon explain KBR immunity deal