September 9, 2010
Federal court prohibits KBR and Halliburton from hiding behind government and allows access to evidence
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Motley Rice LLC and Burke PLLC are pleased to announce that the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled Wednesday that lawsuits brought by military personnel harmed by the allegedly negligent actions of defendants KBR, Inc. (NYSE: KBR); Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC, Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc., and Halliburton Company may move forward.
The District Court rejected KBR and Halliburton's attempt to insulate their conduct from judicial scrutiny. Instead, as explained in the 43-page decision released yesterday afternoon, there is a "legitimate concern that the judiciary may prematurely close the doors to soldiers and civilians injured from wartime logistical activities performed by hired hands allegedly acting contrary to military-defined strictures."
Forty three lawsuits filed in 42 states across the nation were consolidated before the Honorable Roger W. Titus for preliminary proceedings in December 2009. The burn pit lawsuits in In re KBR Inc. Burn Pit Litigation, case number 08-02083, allege that KBR and Halliburton ignored the terms of the government contracts requiring them to provide safe and environmentally-sound waste disposal for the troops based in Iraq and Afghanistan, and instead provided substandard waste disposal services by disposing of waste in open-air burn pits. The lawsuits allege that this improper method of waste disposal caused serious physical injuries including cancer and permanent respiratory damage to soldiers and civilians.
"This victory moves us another step towards justice for the brave men and women who honorably served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan but now are sick and suffering because of KBR's alleged negligence," said Susan Burke, court-appointed Lead and Liaison Counsel for the MDL.
"Our clients believed that our civil justice system would provide a fair opportunity for them to share their knowledge, learn more and discover the truth surrounding the horrible toxic exposures from the burn pits. Now we can start proving who was really responsible," stated Motley Rice co-founder, Joe Rice.
About Motley Rice LLC
Motley Rice is recognized for its willingness to litigate complex civil cases and challenging occupational and public health, anti-terrorism and human rights cases, including the landmark 9/11 litigation against terrorist financiers. The firm's experience taking on large corporations began when asbestos lawyers, Ron and Joe, began handling asbestos litigation in the 1970s and its subsequent fight against the four largest tobacco manufacturers in the 1990s that resulted in the largest financial resolution of civil litigation in U.S. history. With more than 60 attorneys and hundreds of staff, the firm handles diverse litigation that helps to protect those harmed by wrongdoing and negligence. Motley Rice LLC is headquartered in South Carolina, and has additional offices in Connecticut; New York; Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; and West Virginia.
About Burke PLLC
Washington, D.C.-based Burke PLLC is known not only for its strong history in complex and civil litigation but also for its commitment to human rights work, strengths that compliment Motley Rice's experience in human rights and occupational disease and toxic tort litigation. Most recently, Burke served as Lead Counsel in five actions brought on behalf of alleged Abu Ghraib torture victims against CACI and L-3 and as Lead Counsel in the internationally watched action filed against defense contractor Blackwater over alleged civilian shootings in Iraq. Burke's work on the Blackwater case has been featured in Jeremy Scahill's best-selling book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," and she and her firms' attorneys were among the first to actively investigate the potential hazards of open-air burn pits on the health and welfare of U.S. soldiers and military personnel.