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Score One For Justice: KBR Drops Effort to Stop Federal Trial In Rape Case

Al Franken can already claim one victory in his short time in the US Senate. His amendment prohibited federal contracts to go to defense companies who bar their employees from using the judicial system in sexual assault cases has stood down KBR in the Jamie Leigh Jones case.

A significant test case in the Supreme Court on the legal rules that govern military contractors’ liability for employee misconduct in war zones has now ended, without any action by the Justices. In an order now shown on the Court’s docket, the Court dismissed the case of KBR Technical Services, et al., v. Jones (09-864). This was done March 11 under the Court’s Rule 46, which allows parties to agree to end a pending case; no explanation is given for such dismissals […]

The former KBR employee is Jamie Leigh Jones, whose lawsuit contends that, three days after arriving in Iraq in July 2005, she was sexually assaulted in company barracks in Baghdad. Here is the way the Fifth Circuit Court described her claims: “Jones alleges that, following a social gathering outside her barracks, at which alcohol had been consumed, she was drugged, beaten, and gang-raped by several Halliburton/KBR employees in her barracks bedrooom.” She also claims that, after the attack, her supervisors placed her “under armed guard in a container.” After she was freed, and returned to the U.S., she complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and it confirmed the assault.

This case, and the resultant claim by KBR that Jones could only seek arbitration and not a trial, led to the Franken amendment, which meant that if KBR pursued this attempt to shut down Jones’ legal avenues, they would be ineligible for federal contracts. So they dropped the case.

Good to see the good guys win one for a change.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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