Overturning the New Orleans federal district court’s dismissal before any investigation into the merits, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded for trial the legal action filed by the parents of Texas National Guardsman Sgt. Chris Everett, electrocuted while serving at Camp Taqaddum in Iraq in September 2005.
The case was filed by Doyle Raizner LLP for Sgt. Everett’s mother, Larraine McGee, and father, Patrick Everett, after they eventually discovered from media coverage of US Senate investigations that his death, along with that of a number of other servicemen electrocuted at bases in Iraq, was due to improper electrical work by unqualified or untrained employees of civilian American military contractors. Louisiana-based Arkel International, LLC, an electrical subcontractor of military contractor KBR, was responsible for service and maintenance on electrical equipment at the camp, and Sgt. Everett was fatally injured when he received an electrical shock while using a power washer. Unknown to Sgt. Everett, the generator at the wash station was improperly grounded, causing him to be electrocuted. The Fifth Circuit’s opinion sends the case for the family of Sgt. Everett back to the district court for full discovery and trial evaluation of the facts and circumstances of Sgt. Everett’s unnecessary and untimely death.
On February 15, 2012, the Houston Press published an extended article about the ongoing litigation by U.S. and British servicemen against KBR for exposure to sodium dichromate (hexavalent chromium) during the Iraq War. Sodium dichromate, a known toxic and carcinogenic chemical, was spread throughout the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant worksite in Iraq. KBR hired the U.S. and British defense forces to provide security to the plant. At the time, KBR was aware of the dangers posed to the servicemen, but did not inform the military or the soldiers, or take precautions to protect them from exposure. As a result, many of the soldiers are now suffering the health consequences of KBR’s actions.
Litigation in the matter is currently ongoing in the United States District Courts for the Southern District of Texas and the District of Oregon.