Court Deals Major Blow to Veterans Suing Over Burn Pits
Special to McClatchy Washington Bureau
By Patricia Kime
5 Aug 2017
"My husband is DEAD because of burn pits," Dina McKenna, whose husband, former Army Sgt. William McKenna, died in 2010 from a rare form of T-cell lymphoma after serving in Iraq, told McClatchy in an email. "I want someone to be held accountable."
A senior airman tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base, Iraq, in March 2008. (US Air Force photo/Julianne Showalter)
A federal judge has dismissed a major lawsuit against a defense contractor by veterans and their family members, over burn pit operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that plaintiffs said caused them chronic and sometimes deadly respiratory diseases and cancer.
In the decision, U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus wrote that the company, KBR, could not be held liable for what was essentially a military decision to use burn pits for waste disposal. Titus said holding the Pentagon responsible was outside of his jurisdiction.
"The extensive evidence ... demonstrates that the mission-critical, risk-based decisions surrounding the use and operation of open burn pits ... were made by the military as a matter of military wartime judgment," Titus wrote in an 81-page opinion.
The dismissal -- the second by Titus in the case -- deals a major blow to the more than 700 veterans, family members and former KBR employees who brought the suit.read more here