After many years of surviving an extremely abusive Overly Zealous Defense
These benefits were recently taken away by the Benefits Review Board when Attorney Bruce Nicholson, who was actively pursuing a settlement with KBR/AIG’s Attorney Michael Thomas, had a contract with the widow, was the attorney of record with the BRB, did not as much as respond to the Appeal.
While Bruce Nicholson is the one who apparently purposely abandoned the claim, Michael Thomas and the BRB were more than happy to carry on without notifying the widow that AIG’s appeal of her claim was unopposed.
Our thoughts are with you today Barb
Injured War Zone Contractor Dan Hoagland shares his story of medical treatment denied by KBR/AIG, resulting in a death sentence by Cancer, with Sean Calleb.
Scott Bloch, Defense Base Act Attorney tells the truth about the Defense Base Act Insurance Scandal and our Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit.
Private security firms won lucrative contracts to supply support staff and security guards to back up US forces in Iraq. They recruited Ugandans and pushed them to the limit, on low pay and no benefits
Like all foreign nationals working for PMCs under contract to the Pentagon, sick or wounded Ugandans repatriated from Iraq are, in principle, covered by the Defense Base Act, which guarantees that their employer’s insurer will reimburse their medical expenses. It also provides for disability pay for the most unfortunate. “But, all too often, the Ugandans do not receive the medical care and disability that they are supposed to,” American lawyer Tara K Coughlin told me.
by Alain Vicky LeMonde Diplomatique May 6, 2012
“I realised immediately that I’d just made the worst mistake in my life. But it was too late. I’d signed up for a year. I had to take it like a man,” said Bernard (1), a young Ugandan who worked for an American private military company (PMC) operating in Iraq. He was part of the “invisible army” (2) recruited by the US to support its war effort. Bernard returned to Uganda last year. He is ill, but has been denied the welfare and healthcare benefits promised in his contract.
White recruits — from the US, Israel, South Africa, the UK, France and Serbia — hired by PMCs that have won contracts with the Pentagon (worth $120bn since 2003) have received substantial pay, often more than $10,000 a month; “third country nationals” (TCNs) like Bernard have been treated badly and their rights as employees have been abused. Some, sent home after being wounded, get no help from their former employers.
In June 2008, when the US began its withdrawal from Iraq, there were 70,167 TCNs to 153,300 regular US military personnel; in late 2010 there were still 40,776 TCNs to 47,305 regulars. TCNs (men and women) were recruited in the countries of the South to work on the 25 US military bases in Iraq, including Camp Liberty, an “American small town” built near Baghdad, which at its peak had a population of over 100,000. They made up 59% of the “basic needs” workforce, handling catering, cleaning, electrical and building maintenance, fast food, and even beauty services for female military personnel.
Some, especially African recruits, were assigned to security duties, paired up with regular troops: 15% of the static security personnel (guarding base entrances and perimeters) hired by the PMCs on behalf of the Pentagon were Sub-Saharans. Among these low-cost guards, Ugandans were a majority, numbering maybe 20,000. They were sometimes used to keep their colleagues in line: in May 2010 they quelled a riot at Camp Liberty by a thousand TCNs from the Indian subcontinent.
The high ratio of Ugandans was due to the political situation in central Africa in the early 2000s. In western Uganda the war in the Great Lakes region was officially over. In northern Uganda the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels had been brought under control. In neighbouring Sudan the civil war was over, opening up the way to independence for the south (3). More than 60,000 Ugandan troops were demobilised; Iraq seemed like an opportunity. The Ugandan government, a key ally of the US in central Africa, was one of the few to support the Bush administration when the Iraq war began in 2003. US and Ugandan armed forces have collaborated since the mid-1980s. Ugandan journalist and blogger Angelo Izama (4) told me that in 2005 the US needed more paramilitary security — “They were looking for reliable labour from English-speaking countries, veteran labour” — and turned to Uganda.
The Exclusive Remedy was intended to be trade off to keep injured contractors from having litigate with their employers when they are injured. As it turns out the employers are off the hook and the injured contractors fight for years for medical care and lost wages from private insurance companies, AIG, CNA, ACE
AIG has fought the survivors and families of those killed like they were common criminals for the death, medical, and lost wages that were to be provided “forthwith”.
And no one believes this could happen until it happens to them and their family.
Bloomberg January 12, 2012
KBR Inc. (KBR) and its former corporate parent, Halliburton Co. (HAL), won’t face a jury on claims they sent unarmed civilian convoy drivers into an Iraqi battle zone in 2004, knowing the workers would be injured or killed, an appeals court ruled.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today ruled the drivers’ claims were blocked by the Defense Base Act, a U.S. law that shields military contractors from lawsuits. The drivers were attacked and injured because of their role in support operations for the U.S. Army, which is covered under that statute, the judges said.
“Coverage of an injury under the DBA precludes an employee from recovering from his employer,” even if the worker claims the company was “substantially certain” the injuries would occur, U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen said in a 30-page ruling by the panel.
KBR, a Houston-based government contractor, was sued in 2005 by the families of seven drivers killed while working inIraq for the largest U.S. military contractor. The company appealed a 2010 lower-court ruling that jurors could weigh the companies’ actions without second-guessing the actions of the Army.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who presided over the case in Houston federal court, refused to dismiss Halliburton, which spun off KBR as a separate company in 2007. Miller had also ruled that the companies couldn’t name the military as a co-defendant in the lawsuits, so the Army wasn’t required to defend its actions.
The drivers and their families claimed KBR officials fraudulently recruited workers for safe jobs in Iraq and intentionally sent unarmed civilians into a recognized combat zone in April 2004. KBR’s military-supply contract gave company officials the right to refuse assignments deemed too dangerous for civilians, according to the complaints.
KBR and Halliburton argued that they weren’t liable because they couldn’t refuse Army orders to dispatch the fuel convoys under terms of their multibillion-dollar supply contract with the U.S. military. The convoys were attacked at a time when Iraqi insurgents were escalating the fight against U.S. troops that had taken over the country to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.
The case is Fisher v. Halliburton, 10-20202, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).
by Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room December 12, 2011
Say goodbye to Xe. The company formerly known as Blackwater — the world’s most infamous private security corporation — has jettisoned the name it chose in its 2009 rebrand. Now the “security solutions provider” wants to wash away the taint of the 2007 Nisour Square shootings by adopting the new name “Academi.”
But the company is changing its name — not its core business. And it even wants back into the country where it ran its brand through the mud: Iraq.
If Blackwater — sorry, Academi – was a sports franchise, you’d consider 2011 its rebuilding year. A consortium of investors close to the family of founder Erik Prince bought the company in late 2010, and spent 2011 putting together its new leadership team. It brought on board former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bill Clinton consigliere Jack Quinn and Suzanne Folsom from the insurance giant AIG. Wright came from military-services giant KBR. Notice a pattern? All have deep experience with crisis management.
Notice another pattern: all of those hires either worked in senior government positions or worked closely with those who did. That signals confidence in the company’s traditional business — getting big government contracts to protect diplomats, aid workers and even the military in dangerous places. On its new website, Academi says providing “stability and protection to people and locations experiencing turmoil” is its “core” business. New name; same wheelhouse.
Defense Department Inspector General says KBR and the military failed to respond quickly to health risks posed to Oregon soldiers
The OregonianSeptember 28, 2011
The Defense Department and contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root failed to act as quickly as they should have to protect those exposed to a carcinogenic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003, according to a report Wednesday by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.
The report was hailed as a victory for Oregon soldiers by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who was one of a group of senators who sought the IG’s evaluation, and by Oregon National Guard troops who are among those suing KBR. They accuse the contractor of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer.
Because KBR “did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required” under its contract with the Army, the Inspector General found, “a greater number of Service members and DoD civilian employees were exposed to sodium dichromate, and for longer periods, increasing the potential for chronic health effects.”
The report found that “nearly 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the compound in the five months it took from the initial site visit until the military command required personal protective equipment.”
“To me, the bottom line is this report confirms what Oregon soldiers and I have been saying for years,” said Wyden. “KBR and the military command failed to protect soldiers from a known threat.”
Houston-based KBR couldn’t be reached for comment before deadline. KBR has previously denied knowingly exposing soldiers or contractors to health risks.
Rocky Bixby of Tualatin, the former Oregon National Guard soldier who is listed as the first plaintiff in the suit against KBR, said Wednesday afternoon that he hadn’t yet seen the report, but is “obviously happy.”
“I’m just happy that the government is making a stand on this and protecting its troops,” said Bixby, who says he continues to suffer breathing difficulties that started after he helped secure the plant where KBR was working to restore water service.
The 56-page report also faults the military’s handling of the work at Qarmat Ali, from the vague wording of its initial contract to its failure to monitor the contractor’s compliance with its terms
T Christian Miller ProPublica September 27, 2011
Private contractors injured while working for the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan filed a class action lawsuit  in federal court on Monday, claiming that corporations and insurance companies had unfairly denied them medical treatment and disability payments.
The suit, filed in district court in Washington, D.C., claims that private contracting firms and their insurers routinely lied, cheated and threatened injured workers, while ignoring a federal law requiring compensation for such employees. Attorneys for the workers are seeking $2 billion in damages.
The suit is largely based on the Defense Base Act, an obscure law that creates a workers compensation system for federal contract employees working overseas. Financed by taxpayers, the system was rarely used until the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most privatized conflicts in American history.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians working for federal contractors have been deployed to war zones to deliver mail, cook meals and act as security guards for U.S. soldiers and diplomats. As of June 2011, more than 53,000 civilians have filed claims for injuries in the war zones. Almost 2,500 contract employees have been killed, according to figures kept by the Department of Labor, which oversees the system.
An investigation by ProPublica, the Los Angeles Times and ABC’s 20/20  into the Defense Base Act system found major flaws, including private contractors left without medical care and lax federal oversight. Some Afghan, Iraqi and other foreign workers for U.S. companies were provided with no care at all.
The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, charges that major insurance corporations such as AIG and large federal contractors such as Houston-based KBR deliberately flouted the law, thereby defrauding taxpayers and boosting their profits. In interviews and at Congressional hearings, AIG and KBR have denied such allegations and said they fully complied with the law. They blamed problems in the delivery of care and benefits on the chaos of the war zones
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
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
Attorney Gary Pitts is pictured here only by circumstance. We would never endorse using him as an attorney.
have put her and her daughter through these many years
Just it is
On January 21st a decision by ALJ Steven B Berlin awarded
Defense Base Act Benefits for the PTSD Suicide Death of her husband
We have the decision and will update with more details, surely there is more to come
as well as thanks to the many people who helped shed light on the truth, but for now
Barbara and Sara may you rest a bit easier knowing that
a belated Justice has been bestowed upon
yours and your husband and fathers’ good names
So what happened to
We suspected all along that this program would benefit the DBA Insurance Companies more than the injured DynCorp employees.
Looks like if you go to work for DynCorp in Afghanistan you better have enough money to get home when you get injured and are no longer of use to them. And when you get home and cannot pay your medical or household bills because AIG or CNA refuses as usual to pay benefits don’t look to this program for help.
Excellence begins with caring – I truly believe that,” said Mr. Warren. “The DI Care EAP reflects a culture of caring and commitment to our employees.”
What happened Mr. Warren?
Thousands of Injured Contractors are being treated by the VA because AIG, CNA , ACE, refuse to accept their responsibility to provide medical benefits earned by injured contractors. Yes, you earned those benefits, they were paid for.
Despite these huge numbers there are those who want to advocate the use of the VA by all injured war zone contractors . We say AIG and CNA have been paid to provide these services and need to do so or get out of the business. Congress and the Department of Labor need stop putting this off and deal with it. The VA has enough to do without subsidizing greedy insurance companies and taking away from military war casualties.
In 2003, Bush administration officials estimated that about 50,000 U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq eventually would file disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In this, as with so many things about the wars, the administration woefully underestimated, this time by a factor of 10. Already some 500,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have filed for disability — about one in every three who served.
With nearly 200,000 troops still deployed in the two nations, that number surely will rise. And the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are the smallest part of the VA’s current disability workload.
The Chicago Tribune reported last month that 84 percent of the increase in VA disability claims over the past seven years came from veterans of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars. In all, the VA paid out $34.4 billion in disability to more than 3 million veterans. The biggest single category for Vietnam, Persian Gulf and “war on terror” veterans: $8 billion for post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological disabilities.
Funding isn’t the problem — Congress and the Obama administration have approved major boosts in VA spending in the last two budget years. The problem is the sheer size of the workload. And it’s about to get bigger. Read this in it’s entirety here
From Barbara Dill a few days ago:
I just got a call from, get this, KBR. Yep, They asked for Wade Dill. The number they called from was 713-753-4177. This is the third or fourth time they have called trying to recruit him back to work.
Isn’t it funny that they can’t find any medical records on anyone that needs them, but they can still hang on to a dead mans job application from over 4 years ago!!
Medical Records from KBR were a vital part of evidence proving that Wade Dill was suffering symptoms of PTSD while he was in Iraq.
But like so many other injured KBR contract employee’s their Medical Records have gone AWOL.
KBR continues to support it’s corporate bedfellow AIG over the contractors and their families. Wade must have been of some value to them or they wouldn’t keep trying to get him back from the grave. Maybe if Wade had known how quickly they would throw his wife and daughter under the bus he’d have thought better the first time they called.
Failure to produce these records does not jeopardize KBR in any way.
But if the contractor failed to produce any record asked for or refused to to go to AIG’s hired gun “doctors” for Defense Medical Examinations they could automatically lose their claim.
The International Peace Operations Association has an admirable goal in mind, promoting higher standards and requiring ethical operations of their membership.
We support the IPOA and it’s goals but would like to see some support for the injured employees some of their members have abused.
Senior stability operations figure believes that contractors must endeavour to educate the public on the facts.
Mar 25, 2010 – In recent years, the demand for stability operations has risen sharply, coming from both NATO and many struggling nations. Yet the majority of publicity tends to cast a negative shadow over private contractor involvement in these regions, claiming that governments are faced with a conflict of interests in involving contracting companies in the formation of defence budgets.
Sometime-cynics include David Isenberg of The Huffington Post, who has written extensively on both the pros and cons of the PMC emergence. Yet for vocal opponents like author and activist Naomi Klein, such firms are seen to merely exploit disaster-struck countries for profit. The Facebook group “No Shock Doctrine for Haiti”, based on Klein’s condemnation, has well over 37,000 members.
J.J. Messner, Director of the International Peace Operations Assosciation (IPOA), the umbrella association for the stability operations industry, described this view as a “very unfortunate”
Speaking to DefenceIQ, Messner spoke of the support that contractors offer in terms of freeing the army to deal with foreign policy affairs and focusing on the suppression of insurgents, actions fundamental to transitioning a region out of warzone status. Likewise, disaster-hit areas can benefit from the speedy action of these companies in the immediate aftermath of the emergency.
“Ultimately what we can see is that – in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti – there was an immense amount of suffering, there was an immense amount of capacity needed at very short notice, and some private contractors were able to provide airlift support, medical support and logistics at very short notice.”
With the resources of the US military already strained across Afghanistan and Iraq, and with this situation coinciding with a period of military downsizing, Messner holds that IPOA’s companies can provide peace-keeping support and expertise that otherwise wouldn’t be there or are not so widely available in non-profit organisations.
He also addressed the misconception that private contractors in conflict zones are dominated by private military companies such as the extremely controversial and former-member Blackwater.
“It becomes abundantly clear with many of the critics of the industry that they really don’t quite understand what the industry does. If you look at the industry as a whole, I think it’s probably fair to say that 90% of the industry concerns itself with logistics and non-security services, whereas the average man on the street will often think it’s all about heavily armed security contractors.”
“Those kinds of perceptions are very important to tackle because – when it comes to a public perception point of view – if you are sending a number of contractors into a particular country, if the public at large believe that those contractors are going to be heavily armed security contractors…their amount of support is probably going to be different than to if they act knew that the vast majority of them are going to be providing services such as logistics, or medical support, or air lift.”
He added that re-balancing the argument for private contractors and making the public aware of the positive aspects of the firms “really is one of the key roles that IPOA has to fill over the years – an educational role”.
As for critics who argue that the actions of contractors need to be transparent, Messner couldn’t agree more.