HOUSTON, Nov. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal court jury awarded $85 million to 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers who alleged military contractor KBR, Inc. knowingly exposed them to a carcinogen at a water treatment plant they guarded in Iraq in 2003, the soldiers' legal team said tonight.
The Portland, Ore. jury unanimously found KBR was negligent and showed "reckless and outrageous indifference" to the health, safety and welfare of the soldiers, each of which was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.
The Oregon National Guard soldiers, along with other U.S. and British military personnel, guarded the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq, which KBR was contracted to rehabilitate by the U.S. government. The soldiers alleged KBR misled them about the presence and risks associated with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosive agent used to clean pipes at the plant. Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen banned in the U.S.Trial evidence included KBR documents noting a "serious health problem" at Qarmat Ali and "almost 60% of the people now exhibit the symptoms" of sodium dichromate exposure. The soldiers testified they have health problems, including respiratory, skin, gastrointestinal, and lung issues because of the toxic exposure. The trial included videotape testimony of Indiana National Guard Lt. Col. James Gentry, who died in 2009 of lung cancer linked by the Veterans Administration to the sodium dichromate exposure at Qarmat Ali. The soldiers are represented by Michael Patrick Doyle, Jeffrey L. Raizner, and Patrick M. Dennis, of Doyle Raizner LLP, of Houston; Gabriel Hawkins, of Cohen & Malad LLP, of Indianapolis; and David F. Sugerman, of David F. Sugerman Attorney PC, of Portland, Ore. Michael Patrick Doyle, of Doyle Raizner LLP, said, "This verdict is an important step toward obtaining justice for the U.S. and British military personnel who face serious health problems and uncertainty because of KBR's negligence at Qarmat Ali. This jury gave these war veterans and their families what KBR would not – justice and respect for their service to our nation." About 150 more Qarmat Ali-related claims are pending against KBR in federal courts in Portland and Houston. The case is " Rocky Bixby, et al., v. KBR, Inc., et al," Case No. 3:09-CV-632-PK in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Doyle Raizner LLP, 281.703.6000, email@example.com.