Claims: Negligence/Gross negligence/Toxic chemical exposure
Jury verdict: $85 million, court entered judgment for $81 million
Following a November 2012 jury verdict of over $85 million, the court entered a judgment of $81 million for 12 Oregon National Guard veterans exposed to sodium dichromate, also known as hexavalent chromium, at KBR’s Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in southern Iraq in 2003. The jury found, and the judge confirmed in post-verdict orders, that KBR affirmatively concealed the presence of this toxin, with resulting harm to the troops providing security to KBR’s work. The case was the first “bellwether” trial for the Indiana, West Virginia, and Oregon National Guard, along with members of the Royal Air Force Ground Regiment exposed at Qarmat Ali. One hundred forty more plaintiffs, including the surviving family members of two veterans who died after their exposure, await trial.
The toxic chemical was widely present as an orange-colored dust that soldiers assigned to guard the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in southern Iraq could not avoid coming into contact with their lungs, skin, and body tissues during their work guarding KBR’s Qarmat Ali worksite. KBR has filed suit against the United States government to seek payment for the verdict, as well as their legal costs and liability to the remaining plaintiffs, due to an indemnity clause signed by the secretary of the Army allegedly protecting the company from legal liability. That litigation is also still pending.
The affirmed judgment awarded each soldier $500,000 in actual damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages. Click here to read the affirmed judgment.