In our prior post, we mentioned that the military may not enter into broad indemnification agreements with independent contractors for specific wartime projects. This report was based on the lawsuit brought by soldiers who were exposed to a dangerous chemical while serving in Iraq (sodium dichromate) and were led to believe that the material was harmless.
A jury granted an $85 million award, which has not been paid, since the contractor KBR claimed that it was protected from legal actions through its indemnification clause. As such, the U.S. government would be responsible for paying the award.
This was ostensibly was another example of wasteful spending by military contractors, and even before the lawsuit began, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) had been working on legislation to improve contracting practices and accountability for wartime projects. In December, the Senate adopted provisions of her Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act into its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
A press release from McCaskill’s office outlines the critical points of the bill, which the Senate has sent to the President for his signature. They include:
We hope that these provisions will prevent wasteful spending in the future and provide real accountability when negligent military contractors harm American soldiers.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.