Oregon soldiers sue contractor for ailments

A group of soldiers that served in the Oregon National Guard have introduced civil litigation against a contractor, claiming that the company purposely exposed them to a dangerous substance while they were overseas in Iraq.

The soldiers from Oregon were serving along with fellow servicemen from both Great Britain and the United States in 2003. They worked for the company as security for a water treatment plant in which the contractor was trying to repair. Part of that water treatment plant contained a dangerous substance called sodium dichromate. Plant officials used this substance, which contains carcinogens, to stave off corrosion. The lawsuit stated that the company knew the dangers of exposing the soldiers to the sodium dichromate. The soldiers also accused the company of fraud in its operation of the plant.

The soldiers from Oregon suffered ill health effects from exposure to the substance, according to their lawyers. These symptoms included nosebleeds and rashes along with an increased chance of getting cancer. But the contractor is calling the soldiers' arguments bunk. The company said that the so-called medical expert used by the soldiers to diagnosis their ailments and the cause of them, was not qualified.

The company has therefore asked a United States District Judge to throw out the case. The judge is expected to decide in the near future.

The case was brought forth by 34 soldiers. Even if a judge decides to throw out the case for some of the soldiers, other individuals, or groups of individuals, could receive clearance to proceed with litigation. If any of the plaintiffs are allowed to move forward with their case, a court date has been set for June 5. However, with the recent developments, that date will probably be delayed.

The soldiers are just hoping that the delays do not drag the case out for too long. Realistically, the company's recent actions could potentially delay the case for years, though.

Source: The Oregonian, "KBR asks federal judge to dismiss case brought by Oregon soldiers," Mike Francis, Jan. 27, 2012

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