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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Contractors in Iraq to Be Subject to U.S. Laws

WASHINGTON (CN) - Senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would bring foreign military contractors under the jurisdiction of American laws following an appeal from the parents of a soldier allegedly killed by a contractor in Iraq.

In introducing the legislation, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight Chair Claire McCaskill from Missouri told the story of Lt. Col. Dominic Baragona who was allegedly killed when a contractor's truck slammed into him in 2003. The man's parents spent years appealing to the Defense Department, the Bush administration and the Army to seek accountability and information regarding their son's death.

The family sued Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL), the contracting company, in 2006. McCaskill said the contracting firm did not show up before the court until after the family won a $4.9 million judgment. The contractor then argued that the government does not have jurisdiction over it and the court vacated the judgment.

"The need for Congress to act with this legislation has raised serious questions for me about the systematic failures that have allowed companies like KGL to escape accountability for their actions," McCaskill said.

The subcommittee also released a report showing that federal agencies rarely dismiss abusive contractors.

The investigation revealed that over the last five years, the Defense Department Office of Inspector General reported 2,700 convictions, but the Defense Department only debarred 708 contractors.

The Department of Homeland Security did not debar any contractors in 2006, despite widespread reports of waste, fraud and abuse following Hurricane Katrina.

The "Lieutenant General Dominic 'Rocky' Baragona Justice for American Heroes Harmed by Contractors Act" would require foreign companies that enter into contracts with the United States to consent to personal jurisdiction in cases involving serious injury, death or rape.

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