Fifth Circuit Revives Halliburton Lawsuits

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The 5th Circuit reversed dismissal of lawsuits accusing Halliburton and subsidiary military contractors of knowingly telling civilian truck drivers to take routes where Iraqi insurgents ambushed convoys, and killed or injured the drivers.

The court ruled that the tort claims needs further factual development to determine if they are barred by the political question doctrine, which prevents judges from answer political questions.

Surviving truck drivers and their spouses accused Halliburton and its subsidiary, KBR Inc., of falsely portraying the work that the drivers would be performing in Iraq as "100 percent safe," assuring applicants that "(f)ull 24 hour a day U.S. military protection will be in place to insure safety."

Drivers said they relied on these misrepresentations when agreeing to work for KBR, but that KBR deployed convoys in April 2004 to routes that had been attacked the day before and were "subject to a very high risk of insurgent attack."

KBR also allegedly misrepresented the drivers' ability to back out of dangerous situation, telling drivers they could "stop any activity which you believe to be unsafe," but then failed to halt the dangerous convoys.

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