Judge Limits Discovery in Defense Contractor Case

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Halliburton and another defense contractor accused of inflating construction costs at military bases in Iraq won protective orders that narrowly limit their deposition and discovery obligations.




     U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled in July that Harry Barko could seek “limited jurisdictional discovery” against Daoud & Partners, one of the contractors Barko sued in 2005 on behalf of the federal government.
     A former contract administrator, Barko accused Daoud, Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, and five KBR subsidiaries of inflating the costs of building laundry facilities on military bases in Iraq.
     He sought discovery documents and depositions from Daoud and the KBR defendants, which each responded with motions for protective orders.
     Sullivan said that his July ruling, which allowed limited discovery, applied only to Daoud and not to the remaining defendants.
     The judge granted KBR a protective order and allowed Barko to take Daoud’s deposition, but granted Daoud’s request for the deposition to take place in Amman, Jordan, instead of Washington, D.C.
     Barko had argued that any deposition taken in Jordan would have to follow Jordanian law, because that country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention.
     But Sullivan said the court “need not deviate from the general rule that a corporation’s deposition should be held in its principal place of business.” Jordan does not bar the taking of a deposition pursuant to the federal rules, and Daoud “has explicitly agreed that it ‘will appear for this jurisdictional deposition in Amman, Jordan pursuant to the federal rules,'” Sullivan wrote.
     He rejected Barko’s objection to the expense and inconvenience of a deposition in Jordan, calling it an “insufficient basis to order the defendant to appear for a deposition in the United States.”
      Daoud is not required to bear the costs of conducting the deposition abroad, the judge added.
     Sullivan also limited discovery to the time period before Barko filed suit, but disagreed with Daoud’s claim that the topics Barko seeks to cover at deposition “are overbroad and irrelevant to the question of jurisdiction.”
     “Though the topics are broadly worded, plaintiff has provided an adequate explanation of their relevance to jurisdictional issues and asserts that he ‘does not intend to ask questions beyond the scope of Daoud’s jurisdictional ties to the United States,'” Sullivan explained.

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