Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Appeals court revives Iraq contractor torture cases

Rueters  May 11, 2012

A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived two lawsuits accusing employees of two defense contractors of conspiring to torture and abuse Iraqis detained at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and at other locations.

A 14-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, Virginia, refused to intervene and dismiss the suits against CACI International Inc and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc, sending the cases back to district courts for further proceedings.

After the military invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States hired contractors from U.S.-based CACI and L-3 to provide translators and help conduct investigations. In 2004, photographs emerged depicting the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. A number of military personnel were disciplined, but no contractors were charged.

In 2008, a number of Iraqis filed suits against CACI and L-3, accusing their employees of inflicting physical and sexual abuse, electric shocks and mock executions on prisoners.

District courts in Virginia and Maryland rejected the companies’ attempts to dismiss the suits. The companies had filed an interim appeal, before the cases could proceed, asking the 4th Circuit to throw out the claims. They pointed to a 2009 ruling by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., that had dismissed a similar suit against the companies — a decision the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand.

In September 2011, a split three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit ruled in the companies’ favor, finding that the companies had immunity as government contractors and that the claims were pre-empted by U.S. national security and foreign policy law.

But after agreeing to reconsider the appeal, a larger panel of the 4th Circuit reached the opposite

conclusion on Friday in a 12-2 decision that splintered the court, drawing five separate opinions. The companies did not qualify for an immediate appeal, and their claims of immunity needed to be developed through the discovery of evidence, the majority concluded.

Accepting the early appeal would “undermine efficient judicial administration and encroach upon the prerogatives of district court judges, who play a special role in managing ongoing litigation,” Judge Robert King wrote for the majority.

Two judges dissented in separate opinions. The majority’s ruling “inflicts significant damage on the separation of powers, allowing civil tort suits to invade theaters of armed conflict,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote, arguing for the defense contractors’ immunity.

A spokeswoman for CACI said the company was reviewing the ruling and declined to comment. L-3 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Baher Azmy, a lawyer for the Iraqi plaintiffs with the Center for Constitutional Rights, described the ruling as a significant jurisdictional decision that would provide the Iraqis with their day in court.

The Justice Department had filed an amicus brief in the appeal, arguing that the Iraqis should be allowed to sue the contractors for damages.

The case is Al Shimari et al v. CACI International Inc et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, No. 09-1335

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, L-3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

War Risks Shift to Contractors

Even dying is being outsourced here.

by Rod Nordland The New York Times   February 11, 2012

This is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. Many American generals and diplomats have private contractors for their personal bodyguards. And along with the risks have come the consequences: More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.

American employers here are under no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not. While the military announces the names of all its war dead, private companies routinely notify only family members. Most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted — and in some cases, leave their survivors uncompensated.

“By continuing to outsource high-risk jobs that were previously performed by soldiers, the military, in effect, is privatizing the ultimate sacrifice,” said Steven L. Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University who has studied the civilian casualties issue.

Last year, at least 430 employees of American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan: 386 working for the Defense Department, 43 for the United States Agency for International Development and one for the State Department, according to data provided by the American Embassy in Kabul and publicly available in part from the United States Department of Labor.

By comparison, 418 American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year, according to Defense Department statistics compiled by icasualties.org, an independent organization that monitors war deaths.

That trend has been growing for the past several years in Afghanistan, and it parallels a similar trend in Iraq, where contractor deaths exceeded military deaths as long ago as 2009. In Iraq, however, that took place as the number of American troops was being drastically reduced until their complete withdrawal at the end of last year. And last year, more soldiers than private contractors died in Iraq (54 compared with 41, according to Labor Department figures).

Experts who have studied the phenomenon say that because many contractors do not comply with even the current, scanty reporting requirements, the true number of private contractor deaths may be far higher. “No one believes we’re underreporting military deaths,” Mr. Schooner said. “Everyone believes we’re underreporting contractor deaths.”

Qais Mansoori, 20, may have been among the uncounted. An Afghan interpreter employed by Mission Essential Personnel, a leading provider of interpreters in Afghanistan, Mr. Mansoori was killed along with five other interpreters when Taliban insurgents overran the military base where the interpreters were staying in the Mirwais district of Kandahar Province in July 2010.

That attack, typically, was scantily reported, since no soldiers died — although the death toll was 17, including an unidentified American civilian, according to Afghan officials and Mr. Mansoori’s friends and family.

Under the federal Defense Base Act, American defense contractors are obliged to report the war zone deaths and injuries of their employees — including subcontractors and foreign workers — to the Department of Labor, and to carry insurance that will provide the employees with medical care and compensation. In the case of foreign employees, which many of the dead were, survivors generally receive a death benefit equal to half of the employee’s salary for life; American employees get even more.

Mr. Mansoori’s brother, Mohammad, 35, an employee of a mine-removal charity in Afghanistan, said his brother’s employer, Mission Essential Personnel, promptly contacted the family and made a lump sum payment of $10,004, never mentioning the lifetime annuity to which they were entitled — which given Mr. Mansoori’s salary of $800 a month would have been closer to $150,000 over his survivors’ lifetimes. “I wish he was still here to look after my father and mother,” Mohammad Mansoori said. Their father is blind, and Qais Mansoori was his parents’ sole support, he said.

A spokesman for Mission Essential Personnel, Sean Rushton, disputed that, saying that his company has been making biweekly payments of $190 to Mr. Mansoori’s family and will continue doing so for 29 years. The $10,004 lump sum payment was a voluntary death gratuity paid by the company, Mr. Rushton said.

There were 113,491 employees of defense contractors in Afghanistan as of January 2012, compared with about 90,000 American soldiers, according to Defense Department statistics. Of those, 25,287, or about 22 percent of the employees, were American citizens, with 47 percent Afghans and 31 percent from other countries.

The bulk of the known contractor deaths are concentrated among a handful of major companies, particularly those providing interpreters, drivers, security guards and other support personnel who are particularly vulnerable to attacks.

The biggest contractor in terms of war zone deaths is apparently the defense giant L-3 Communications. If L-3 were a country, it would have the third highest loss of life in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq; only the United States and Britain would exceed it in fatalities.

Over the past 10 years, L-3 and its subsidiaries, including Titan Corporation and MPRI Inc., had at least 370 workers killed and 1,789 seriously wounded or injured through the end of 2011 in Iraq and Afghanistan, records show. In a statement, a spokeswoman for L-3, Jennifer Barton, said: “L-3 is proud to have the opportunity to support the U.S. and coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We mourn the loss of life of these dedicated men and women.”

Other American companies with a high number of fatalities are Supreme Group, a catering company, with 241 dead through the end of 2011; Service Employees International, another catering company, with 125 dead; and security companies like DynCorps (101 dead), Aegis (86 dead) and Hart Group (63 dead). In all, according to Labor Department data, 64 American companies have lost more than seven employees each in the past 10 years.

The American dead have included people like James McLaughlin, 55, who trained pilots on a contract for MPRI and was killed by a rogue Afghan pilot who also killed eight American soldiers last April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James Scott Ozier, employees of AAR Airlift, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand Province last month for which Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility.

For every contractor who is killed, many more are seriously wounded. According to the Labor Department’s statistics, 1,777 American contractors in Afghanistan were injured or wounded seriously enough to miss more than four days of work last year.

Marcie Hascall Clark began the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog after her husband, Merlin, a former Navy explosives ordnance disposal expert, was injured in 2003 while working for an American contractor. She and her husband have spent the past seven years fighting for hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability payments and medical compensation. “It was quite a shock to learn how little my husband’s body, mind and future were worth,” she said.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Please see the original here

See also US Insurance Firm CNA Neglects Survivors of Iraqi Translators May Face Criminal Charges

February 11, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, KBR, L-3, Mission Essential Personnel, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

L-3 sees lower sales, profit in 2012

Company expects Engility spin-off at mid-year

Dec 6 (Reuters) – Defense contractor L-3 Communications Holdings Inc said on Tuesday it expects sales and earnings to fall next year, citing declining U.S. spending and troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

L-3, which expects to spin off part of its government services segment into a new company called Engility by mid-year 2012, said it is moving to reduce overhead as customers face fiscal constraints.

“It’s going to be a more challenging environment for us,” Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Strianese said during the company’s investor conference webcast.

Defense contractors are shedding noncore units and reducing headcount in preparation for leaner global defense budgets. The U.S. Defense Department, the world’s biggest weapons spender, is looking to find more than $450 billion in cuts over the next decade

Please read more here

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, L-3 | , , , | Leave a comment

Defense Base Act Class Action

Statement concerning filing of class action for fraud and bad faith against KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting, CNA Insurance, AIG Insurance and others who conspired to deny benefits to severely injured contractors and to harm them further

Scott Bloch  files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like

KBR, Blackwater.XE,  DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting and the global insurance carriers AIG, CNA, ACE and Zurich, on behalf of thousands of former employees, for unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of injured employees and their families   

WASHINGTON, DC (September 26, 2011)

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public. 

The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democratic institutions. 

We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights. 

This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States. 

It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.  
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long. 

We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”),  as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).  
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.  

These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
 “These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch. 

“Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats.  The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment. 

These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years. 

They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.  

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290
scott@scottblochlaw.com

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Interpreters, Iraq, KBR, L-3, Legal Jurisdictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department, Traumatic Brain Injury, USACE, USAID, Veterans, Wackenhut, War Hazards Act, Whistleblower | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

L-3 Takeover Brings 21% More Than Valuation Through Asset Sales: Real M&A

Bloomberg News  June 29, 2011

L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL), whose biggest investor is pushing for the defense company to dispose of underperforming assets, may extract as much as $2.2 billion more for shareholders in a takeover than a breakup.

L-3’s equity may garner a price tag of $12.9 billion in an acquisition, based on the median 8.7 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization offered for military electronics company deals in the past 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Selling the New York-based company’s four units separately may generate $10.7 billion, estimates from Lazard Capital Markets LLC show.

Please read the entire report here

June 30, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, L-3 | , , , , | Leave a comment