By BRETT CLANTON
Uncle Sam could soon be writing another big check to a U.S. company, this time not for recession-related troubles but for civilian casualties five years ago in Iraq.
KBR may ask the U.S. government to reimburse it for legal bills if a jury decides the company failed to protect KBR truck drivers during a deadly April 2004 roadside attack, a lawyer for the Houston-based government contractor said.
Though no final decision has been made, lawyer Robert Meadows said, if the cases go to trial and result in a jury award, "it's conceivable that KBR would look to the government to accept responsibility under its contract" with the company.
Such a prospect does not sit well with plaintiffs' attorneys, who argue the government contractor should pay its own bills if held liable in the cases.
"It would be extremely rare for anybody to be able to turn the cost of their own negligence over to any other individual, much less the U.S. government," said Tobias Cole, a Houston attorney representing Kevin Smith-Idol, a KBR contractor shot in the knee and hip during the attack.
But the idea is only hypothetical at the moment. KBR lawyers are preparing to file motions that will ask U.S. District Court Judge Gray Miller in Houston to dismiss the cases before they go to trial, Meadows said.