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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Defense Contractor’s|Iraq Suit Is Still Kicking

WASHINGTON (CN) - It is too early to say whether Wye Oak can be held liable if its Defense Ministry is found to have breached a deal with a U.S. contractor, a federal judge ruled.

The dispute stems from a a federal complaint Wye Oak Technologies filed in 2009, claiming it had been hired five years earlier to work with top U.S. military officials, including then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, to organize the effort to repair damaged military equipment.

Despite numerous meetings with Iraqi officials who promised payments, however, the three invoices Wye Oak submitted that year were allegedly ignored. Wye Oak says Iraq owes it roughly $24 million.

On a December 2004 trip to Baghdad to collect payment on the invoices, Wye Oak's then president, Dale Stoffel, and another employee were assassinated. Wye Oak's employees and contractors worked in the country until nonpayment forced them to stop in 2007.

Though both parties agree that the murders remain unsolved, Iraq maintains that the FBI has not linked Stoffel's death to a known terrorist group or to the contract dispute. After taking over as president for his brother, David Stoffel allegedly received death threats.

Though Wye Oak attempted mail service on Iraq in October 2009, no signed receipt was ever returned. Wye Oak then commenced service via diplomatic channels in December 2009.

After U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga, of Alexandria, Va., refused to dismiss the suit in June 2010, the case was transferred to Washington.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth advanced the case as chief of the court last year, but this week denied Wye Oak partial judgment on the pleadings as to a narrow question.

"The court concludes that Wye Oak is not entitled to partial judgment on the pleadings because it has failed to demonstrate, at this stage of proceedings, that the ministry's liability for its alleged breach of contract can be attributed to Iraq," the seven-page decision published Wednesday concludes.

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