Law Firms Motley Rice LLC and Burke PLLC Join Forces to Take on KBR and Halliburton on Behalf of American Soldiers, Veterans and Civilians Exposed to Burn Pit HazardsBy Motley Rice Llc, PRNE
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Suit Claims Wartime Contractors Halliburton and KBR Knew Dangers of Burn Pit Exposure
CHARLESTON, South Carolina, February 24, 2010 - Motley Rice LLC, one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' litigation
firms, announces today that it has joined forces with Burke PLLC to jointly
pursue claims for clients in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit multidistrict
litigation. The MDL encompasses suits against defense contractors who
allegedly jeopardized the health and safety of thousands of American
veterans, current service members and former contract employees by knowingly
burning vast quantities of hazardous waste in open-air burn pits on U.S.
military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yesterday, the Honorable Roger W.
Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland provided the
parties with briefing schedules and hearing dates, including one on the
defendants' motions to dismiss.
Named defendants include: KBR, Inc. of Houston (NYSE: KBR); Kellogg,
Brown & Root LLC, of Austin, Texas; Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc., of
Houston, Texas; Turkish-based ERKA Ltd.; and Halliburton Company, of Houston,
Texas. The collective claims against these defendants include those for
battery, breach of contract, breach of duty to warn, future medical expenses,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, medical monitoring, negligence
and wrongful death.
"The U.S. government entered into a contract with and paid millions to
defendants Halliburton and KBR to ensure that they implemented our country's
strict safety standards for waste disposal. We believe these contractors
failed to hold up their end of the deal by ignoring these standards, and now
thousands have been unnecessarily poisoned," stated Motley Rice co-founder,
Joe Rice. "Our soldiers and service members understood the potential risk of
warfare but never expected the harm to come from those who were hired to
Combining their firms' strengths and experience in complex civil
litigation and human rights, Rice and Burke continue to pursue the litigation
that originated in 2008 when Burke began filing lawsuits on behalf of current
service members, military veterans and former employees of KBR and other
contractors who contacted her for help. Each reports exposure to burn pit
emissions and alleges that this exposure caused them to suffer chronic
illnesses since their return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Several people also
approached Burke on behalf of family members who died due to cancers linked
to the type of dioxins allegedly released by burning waste in long-term use
burn pits. The growing number of plaintiffs ultimately led Burke to seek
consolidation of the lawsuits and approach Motley Rice. Yesterday, Burke was
appointed by the Court to serve as Lead and Liaison Counsel for the MDL.
On December 15, 2009, 43 cases (totaling approximately 300 plaintiffs)
were consolidated in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit MDL before Judge Titus. Motley
Rice LLC and Burke PLLC are now fighting together on behalf of U.S. service
members and families of loved ones in In re KBR Inc. Burn Pit Litigation,
case number 08-02083. Since the MDL consolidation, the number of inquiries
from potential clients and individuals wishing to share burn pit data has
continued to grow significantly, and both Congress and President Obama have
been addressing the issue. In addition to the National Defense Authorization
Act that the President signed into law on October 28, 2009, to monitor waste
disposal methods, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on
November 6, 2009, to discuss potential contracting abuses and health risks
associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits.
"In addition to hearing the shocking stories about the kinds of waste
being burned in the burn pits, I have listened to personal reports from our
service men and women about injuries that they have sustained, some as
serious as lung cancer and leukemia, " Burke stated. "All passed physical
tests before being deployed. Many had plans of a life-long military career.
Today some of our clients can't walk up a flight of stairs; others can't get
out of bed."
"The defendants were more than willing to compete for and take millions
to manage the waste and water facilities on U.S. bases in Iraq and
Afghanistan but appear, based on their court filings, unwilling to take
responsibility for the dwindling health of our soldiers, veterans and
contract personnel," added Burke.
Plaintiffs in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit MDL allege that the defendants
allowed known carcinogens to be released into the breathing air by neglecting
to implement the required U.S. safety controls for waste disposal. Reported
alleged side effects from burn pit exposure include:
-- Asthma -- Cancers (lung, brain, bone, skin) -- Chronic bronchitis -- Chronic infections -- Chronic respiratory problems -- Serious heart conditions
"While the discovery process allowed by the federal courts has not
started in this case, we are doing our own investigation. We have heard from
many victims of the burn pits and continue to seek information from witnesses
who know what took place," said Rice. "Our clients just want to know the
facts and the truth from Halliburton, KBR and the military. We hope to
discover the truth."
For an expanded list of reported injuries alleged to be linked to the
pits and items that eyewitnesses have reported to have been burned in the
pits, please visit www.burnpitlawsuit.com.
Joe Rice co-founded Motley Rice LLC with litigator Ron Motley and manages
a firm recognized for its willingness to litigate complex civil cases and
challenging occupational and public health, anti-terrorism and human rights
cases, including the landmark 9/11 litigation against terrorist financiers.
The firm's experience taking on large corporations has its roots in the large
asbestos litigation that began in the 1970s and its subsequent fight against
the four largest tobacco manufacturers in the 1990s that resulted in the
largest financial resolution of civil litigation in U.S. history.
With more than 60 attorneys and hundreds of staff, the firm handles
complex litigation that helps to protect those harmed by wrongdoing and
negligence. Motley Rice LLC is headquartered in South Carolina, and has
additional offices in Connecticut; New York; Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.;
and West Virginia.
Washington, D.C.-based firm Burke PLLC is known not only for its strong
history in complex and civil litigation but also for its commitment to human
rights work, strengths that compliment Motley Rice's experience in human
rights and occupational disease and toxic tort litigation. Most recently,
Burke served as lead counsel in five actions brought on behalf of alleged Abu
Ghraib torture victims against CACI and L-3 and as lead counsel in the
internationally watched action filed against defense contractor Blackwater
over alleged civilian shootings in Iraq. Burke's work on the Blackwater case
has been featured in Jeremy Scahill's best-selling book, "Blackwater: The
Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," and she and her firms'
attorneys were among the first to actively investigate the potential hazards
of open-air burn pits on the health and welfare of U.S. soldiers and military
For more information about Motley Rice LLC or burn pit litigation,
contact attorney Joe Rice (SC) at +1-800-768-4026 or visit
www.burnpitlawsuit.com and www.motleyrice.com.
Erin Powers, +1-281-703-6000, edp at powersmediaworks.com, for Motley Rice LLC
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