Suit Claims Contractors Endangered Soldiers And Others

Three people from the Cape Fear region are among the plaintiffs in a nationwide personal injury suit alleging that defense contractors endangered troops and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan while burning garbage in pits on U.S. bases.

The suits name KBR and its former parent company, Halliburton, as defendants. The suits allege that exposure to fumes the garbage fires produced led to health problems and, in some cases, death.

Seven of the plaintiffs are North Carolina residents. One of those seven died. The other six claim to have suffered various health issues, including respiratory problems such as the disabling condition of asthma.

There were similar suits filed in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, and Wyoming.

According to the lead attorney, a total of 70 plaintiffs are expected to file suit.

The attorneys wish to form a class-action suit and seek damages “sufficient to strip defendants of all the revenue and profits earned.”

The suits describe pits so massive that tractors were required to push in trucks, tires, batteries, corpses, plastic, and other waste and said that fires were regularly doused with fuel.

According to one complaint, Fuquay-Varina resident Steven Ochs died on July 12, 2008. He was deployed to Balad Air Force Base and contracted cancer, severe, congestion, sinus problems, and other illnesses before his death.

According to another claim, Spring Lake resident David Newton was deployed to Balad Air Force Base and now suffers from asthma, reactive airway disease, chronic bloody coughing, and frequent vomiting.

According to another complaint, Benny Lyle Reynolds Jr. of Fort Bragg was exposed to burn pits when he was deployed to Iraq and now suffers upper respiratory issues such as severe pneumonia, chronic coughing, bronchial spasms, shortness of breath, and sinus problems.

Another claim says that Pembroke resident Earl Chavis was employed as a truck driver at Balad Air Force Base by KBR. The claim says as he drove past the burn pits, his truck would fill with smoke and as a result, he now suffers from asthma restrictive airways disease, sleep disorder, migraines, weight loss and joint pain.

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