Last week the Senate conducted hearings into the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq due to the negligent installation of electrical wiring by employees of Halliburton KBR. (View Article at ArmyTimes.com)
Testimony by former KBR employees substantiated the gross conduct of that company in performing its responsibilities under contracts with the Army Corps of Engineers.These incidents raise the interesting legal question of whether Halliburton KBR can be held legally liable for the death and injury of active duty soldiers resulting from its negligence.
It is well established that active duty soldiers cannot sue the government for injuries or death sustained incident to their service.That prohibition, however, does not apply to independent contractors working for the government such at Halliburton KBR.Such contractors are bound by the same rules as all non-governmentalentitiesand must exercise reasonable conduct in the performance of its duties to those who foreseeable could be injured by their negligence.
Bottom line—while the United States cannot be sued by an injured soldier, an independent contractor such as Halliburton KBR can.Such an action would have to be filed in Texas federal courtwhere Halliburton KBR has its corporate headquarters.The biggest obstacle to bringing such an action is the need to do so in a timely manner before the statute of limitations runs.
An action against Halliburton KBR can be pursued even if the soldier or his family has already received government benefits arising out of his/her injury or death.Of particular note is that government benefits do not compensate a soldier or a soldier’s family for such injuries as pain, suffering, and loss of society.No such limitation exits regarding a claim against an independent contractor.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of electrical hazards in Iraq, you are encouraged to contact our military medical malpractice law firm for a free consultation.