KBR Faces Wrongful Death, Toxic Exposure Claims Over Iraq and Afghanistan Burn Pits, According to Burke O’Neil LLC

April 28, 2009

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire/ — Nine new lawsuits allege that KBR, Inc. jeopardized the health and safety of American soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan by burning vast quantities of unsorted waste in enormous open-air burn pits with no safety controls.

The lawsuits are being filed today and Wednesday in state courts in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, and Wyoming by the Burke O’Neil LLC law firm and co-counsel on behalf of 21 named current and former military personnel, private contractors, and the families of men who allegedly died as a result of exposure to toxic emissions from KBR burn pits.

KBR is accused of allowing thick, noxious smoke – coming off of flames sometimes colored blue or green by burning chemicals – to hang over U.S. bases and camps across Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004. Round-the-clock hazardous emissions from the burn pits allegedly caused serious respiratory illnesses, tumors and cancers in the plaintiffs.

According to the complaints, “U.S. soldiers and other residents of the military bases and camps have become seriously ill, been diagnosed with serious and potentially fatal diseases and in some cases have died from the physical injuries and diseases caused by the exposure to hazardous smoke and fumes.”

The burn pits are so large that tractors are used to push waste onto them and the flames shoot hundreds of feet into the sky, according to the lawsuits. KBR allegedly burned waste such as biohazard materials including human corpses, medical supplies, paints, solvents, asbestos, items containing pesticides, animal carcasses, tires, lithium batteries, styrofoam, wood, rubber, medical waste, large amounts of plastics, and even entire trucks.

Attorney Elizabeth Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “KBR knew or should have known that operating vast open-air burn pits jeopardized the health and safety of thousands of Americans. The hazards of operating large open air burn pits were well known. KBR showed an utter disregard for the safety of the troops when they chose to use open air burn pits and failed to use incinerators and other safer methods of waste disposal.”

The plaintiffs include:

  • Robyn Sachs, of Buffalo, N.Y., whose husband Christopher J. Sachs, died in November 2008 of complications of leukemia allegedly caused by his prolonged exposure to KBR burn pit smoke, fumes and ash during his military service in Iraq.
  • Melissa Ochs and Joanne Ochs, of Fuquay Varina, N.C., the surviving spouse and mother, respectively, of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Steven Ochs, who died, in July 2008, from the same type of leukemia as Mr. Sachs, allegedly caused by exposure to KBR burn pits.
  • Albert Paul Bittel III, of Golden, Mo., an Army veteran who was stationed at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq, where he and his squad were exposed to KBR burn pit emissions. Upon his return from Iraq, he was diagnosed with cancer of the testicles, stomach and lymph nodes. After surgeries, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, he continues to suffer from memory problems and chronic numbing and swelling of his feet and hands and was forced to end his military career.
  • James Morgan, of Statesville, N.C., who served in Iraq and was stationed at a guard tower located directly above KBR’s Balad Air Force Base burn pit, suffered from chronic cough and respiratory problems before developing lung cancer which has spread to his back.
  • Michael Auw, of Hesperia, Calif., a disabled former soldier who was a guard in the tower located directly above the enormous burn pit at Balad Air Force Base and who is now completely disabled due to severe neurological damage as a result of constant extreme exposure to toxic emissions from the burn pits.
  • Michael Douglas Moore, of Hinesville, Ga., a former soldier who was stationed at and then medically evacuated from Balad Air Force Base after burn pit emissions exposure. His exposure to the burn pit emissions caused severe respiratory disease and he later underwent jaw surgery to address related breathing problems and sleep apnea and was left with facial scars and lasting medical effects.

Other named plaintiffs are Richard Ronald Guilmette, of Enterprise, Ala.,; Albert Paul Bittel III, of Golden, Mo.; Cory Casalegno, of San Diego, Calif.; Michael Douglas Moore, of Hinesville, Ga.; David U. Lackey, of Moline, Ill.; Randall L. Robinson, of Cherry Valley, Ill.; Dean Guy Olson, of Owatonna, Minn.; Fred Robert Atkinson, Jr., of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Jennifer Montijo, of Watertown, N.Y.; Steven A. Flowers, a New York resident who is serving abroad; David Newton, of Spring Lake, N.C.; Chris Boggiano, of Huntersville, N.C.; Benny Lyle Reynolds, Jr.; of Fort Bragg, N.C.; Earl Chavis, of Pembroke, N.C.; SMSgt Glen S. Massman of Warren AFB, Wyo.; and Ssgt Wendy L. McBreairty, of Cheyenne, Wyo.

The collective claims against the defendants include wrongful death, negligence, battery, breach of duty to warn, medical monitoring, future medical expenses, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.

The legal team for the plaintiffs intends to seek class certification of the lawsuits to cover costs of medical monitoring, future medical expenses, and other damages for other individuals exposed to KBR burn pit emissions.

Ms. Burke stated, “KBR promised to minimize the environmental effects of the burn sites they operated in Iraq and Afghanistan and to minimize smoke exposure to people in and near the bases and camps. Instead, by forsaking safety for money, KBR willfully endangered these men and women who honorably served their country in military service or in support of the military.”

The defendants are KBR, Inc., of Houston; Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC, of Austin, Texas; Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc., of Houston; and Halliburton Company, of Houston.

The first five cases filed today are:

  • “Richard Ronald Guilmette, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al.,” in the Circuit Court of Alabama, Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Coffee County, Alabama (71-CV-2009-900036.00).
  • “Dean Guy Olson, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al.,” in the District Court of the State of Minnesota, Third Judicial District, Steele County, Minnesota (74 CV091013).
  • “Michael Douglas Moore, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al.,” in the Superior Court of Georgia, First District, Atlantic Judicial Circuit, Liberty County, Georgia (09-SV-169).
  • “Fred Robert Atkinson, Jr., et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al,” in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, 8th District, Erie County, New York (filing confirmed).
  • “David U. Lackey, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al.,” in the Circuit Court for Cook County, Illinois (filing confirmed).

Additional cases will be filed today and Wednesday in state courts in San Diego County, Calif., Barry County, Mo., Wake County, N.C., and Laramie County, Wyo.

Attorney Contact: Elizabeth Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, Charlottesville, Va., 434.249.1275.

Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Burke O’Neil LLC, 281.703.6000.


Source: newswire

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