SCOTUS Allows Halliburton Suits to Proceed

SCOTUS Allows Halliburton Suits to Proceed January 21, 2015

The Supreme Court denied cert in several cases in which Halliburton and one of its subsidiaries, Kellogg, Brown and Root, are being sued for injuries suffered by soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan due to faulty workmanship and mishandling of hazardous materials by those companies while working on contracts for the military.

The high court left intact appeals court rulings against the two companies in three different cases.

One lawsuit was brought by the family of U.S. Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, who died in 2008 after being electrocuted in his barracks in Iraq. The second was brought by a group of plaintiffs, mainly service members, who said they were injured by smoke from open-air “burn pits” used for waste disposal.

The third lawsuit was brought by soldiers from both the U.S. and Britain who say they were exposed to a potentially dangerous chemical, sodium dichromate, while serving at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in southern Iraq.

There are a series of cases against private contractors concerning their liability for actions that took place in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plaintiffs sue companies because the U.S. military generally cannot be sued over such issues. Courts have struggled over whether to allow the lawsuits to proceed.

KBR was bought by Halliburton, then spun off into its own company again. It was a Halliburton subsidiary until 2007. The companies have argued that they should be immune from liability because they were working for the government.

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