A Tangled Web

Posted on December 15, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

25th of 25 in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day:

  • DDLS, Esq. = Dumpster Diving Legal Scavenger, par excellence.  Archaic:  slime bucket (Yep.  I made all that up.)
  • quash = declare in a court of law that something is not valid (MS-XP dictionary)

ONCE UPON A TIME, we had a model court system, a forum of relative fairness that allowed all parties equal time and opportunity to explain their respective sides of a dispute.  That forum had a referee (a judge skilled in court room procedure) with the outcome decided by vote of a panel of citizens (the jury) who should be hearing the details of the case for the very first time in this fair and orderly arena structured by the law of the land…   once upon a time.

Today, you can buy a $1.00 cup of HOT coffee, leave the vendor’s premises and pour it all over yourself, then sue the vendor who subsequently pays you $3,500,000, even though the only thing he did wrong was to sell you that $1.00 cup of coffee exactly the way you ordered it.

Today, you can take up a habit that YOU KNOW is socially objectionable and unhealthy to you AND bystanders, and, when you get the news that YOUR body (cough, cough) is checking out of this world because of your CHOSEN and rigorously ADHERED TO decision, you sue the manufacturer because of your REALLY BAD DECISION to be a cool, smoke blowing crowd follower.  Subsequently, you…   well, your survivors, anyway…   get millions of dollars from the tobacco manufacturer, who has been legally conducting business under the free enterprise system for a couple of centuries.

Today, as a private contractor, you can agree to back up your government in a war effort, with the expectation of receiving the same exclusions from war-zone related loses (by third-party interests) as the government that hired you.  That would be the very same exclusionary treatment enjoyed by every insurance underwriter and every service provider in the world regarding the unpredictable occurrences and results of ACTS OF GOD and ACTS OF WARAnd, your government writes that exclusion into your contract.

But, that government, in CONTRAVENTION of its CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT TO SHIELD YOU from such liability, allows you to be sued for millions of dollars under non-applicable rules governing private activities in a peace time environment as if war-zone losses/injuries were not the result of, nor under the influence of, combat operations.

The Judiciary (that third branch of GOVERNMENT, in case your civics and history classes are but a dim memory) should have honored the war powers of the Executive and Legislative branches and quashed such lawsuits from the outset as not subject to civil judicial review.

But it did not.  Enter the Doyle Raiznor law firm, and the anti big-contractor blogger, Ms. Sparky.  While the millions awarded by the civil jury (finding against KBR) sounds astronomical, it is probably little more than a bug-bite to that global contractor, who, most certainly, has no need of my services to “defend” it.  But, there is much more to this civil case than ungodly settlement amounts.  There is legal precedent.

A relic of the old fairy tale jury system is the taking of depositions to provide an attorney the means to ensure a fair appraisal of the available facts in a case.  If subpoenaed to provide this out-of-court testimony, an individual must appear or be guilty of contempt of court and subject to court penalties.  It is coerced testimony in the interest of fairness.  It is testimony to be used in case preparation and as a bench-mark for testimony given later in court.  “In court” being the operative term here.

KBR’s antagonist, the Doyle Raiznor law firm, has taken such coerced testimony from KBR employees and altered it to sound like a news documentary or opening/closing statement for the jury.  Had it been kept in-house for case preparation, no foul.

Amazingly, these actors decided on a different course.  Aided and abetted by one Ms. Sparky (a self-described hater of big contractors), that coerced testimony was cut into sound- and video-bytes and woven into a story line concocted by the law firm to bolster their non-existent claim.  Neither evidence supporting their allegations nor context of the questioning was provided, simply 5 minutes (out of 6 hours testimony, according to Ms. Sparky) of cut-and-pasted testimony surrounded by 5 minutes of barrister Doyle giving a monologue interspersed with silent-movie era dialogue cards.  Put up on the anti-KBR blog site (Ms. Sparky.com), this travesty of legal ethics was on display (… and I am guessing…) about 2 years, well ahead of the eventual court date.  The only way to describe this action is “a deliberate smear campaign against the reputation of KBR,” just to be certain the prospective jury pool (the public) leaned in favor of the plaintiffs…  before jury selection even started.

I do not think this action was necessary given the track record of juries in regards to finding against big business — big corporations are always found to be negligent.  When it comes to sticking it to big business, juries have been very accommodating.

The damaging legacy of this pre-trial smear is that no one in the judiciary called Doyle Raiznor on the carpet for what I can only characterize as unethical conduct.  If this is allowed to stand, then everyone called to give depositions in any civil litigation is subject to having their testimonies altered to fit the litigators’ story lines, then subsequently displayed on-line without the opportunity to present opposing or mitigating arguments.  To get to the targeted business’s coffers, the litigator can freely smear the employee in the public eye (just as KBR’s employees were) without contradiction so that the prospective jury will be conditioned against the business well before court time…   and vote appropriately at trial.

Bye-bye fair and equal treatment in a court of law…

…say hello to the NEW ORDER, the litigator controlled Litigation Nation.  (Hey, Doyle!  Feel free to use my made up acronym DDLS, Esq. on your business cards.  I won’t sue for copyright infringement.)

Next up:  Something just a little less strident than this has been.

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, deposition, sue, litigator

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A Martyr For The Looting Cause

Posted on November 7, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

24th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your words for the day (Yeah! MY definitions):

  • martyr = someone who dies so someone else can cash in
  • death = life’s other bookend — everybody gets one at birth (which is the first bookend)

Take any group of 1,000 people, and over a span of 5 years several of them will have died or be in the process of dying, succumbing to either accident or disease, the causes of which may be self-evident while some may be vaguely indefinable.

Take any group of 1,000 soldiers who have spent time in one of the recent tropical combat zones and over a span of 5 years a number of them will exhibit various sets of symptoms, and, be afflicted with vague, maybe debilitating or chronic maladies, and, yes, even death.  These veterans are provided medical care for disabilities for years after contraction.

These veterans can rightfully feel that their conditions are “not my fault.”  Yet, most of them accept that it follows from their commitment to serve their country in the military.  And, they know that war is unforgiving:  their mission is to kill, capture, and destroy, and, that means running the risk of injury, maiming, death or capture.  It is a contract between them and their government that they honor.

Civilian contractors sharing the same environment with those soldiers are subject to the same types of risks in performing their service to that same government.  Just as the soldiers are no longer playing war games under controlled conditions in the backwoods of Tennessee, the contractors are no longer doing business in the ordered environment of the good old USA, looking for ways to appease the gods of EPA and OSHA.  For both types, civilian and soldier, an entirely new set of rules apply:  survive the day, while making the military high command happy.

Ms. Sparky claims that a field grade national guard officer was poisoned by chemicals at Qarmat Ali.  (I am fairly certain that Ms. Sparky is not a licensed medical doctor and is simply and gleefully following the litigator’s lead.)  Doyle Raiznor is apparently representing that officer and several national guard units in a suit against KBR.  That officer has physical problems that Raiznor is attributing to chemicals at Qarmat Ali.  In a last interview by Raiznor (according to a sympathy-inducing dialogue card inserted into the video, the officer has since died) the colonel, at Raiznor’s prodding — and prepping, no doubt — states that the KBR employees had it easy because they had armed soldiers with them at all times.  The insinuation is that the soldier, standing in the same place as the civilian, had a much harder time…   than…   the civilian…   standing in the same place…   as the…   soldier?…    Huh!  If an RPG exploded within 15 feet of the civilian, that civilian would have exactly the same amount of protection with or without the soldier nearby.  You know…   NONE.

Let it be noted that there are a host of other soldiers and civilians who were NOT at the water plant who are also plagued with vague and serious physical maladies.  Viet Nam, the first Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq — all producing their shares of afflicted personnel.  There is obviously a general medical downside to crawling around in the tropics and the Mideast at any time, with or without a civilian contractor to scapegoat.

Playing the exposure game.  How come Raiznor has only one body to tout if he has hundreds of clients claiming exposure and injury?  How come that one body is that of a desk jockey (who rarely ventured from the comfort of the office) and not that of a combat grunt who spent days and weeks trampling around with the civilians in a supposedly toxic environment?  (I did my military service at several Army headquarters; I know where the brass hangs outIt isn’t in the foxholes.)

Raiznor’s martyr ploy is as weak as his “it didn’t happen in war” ploy and his phony “rebuttal witness” ploy.  But, in spite of all that, his quest for the spoils of war will continue, win or lose this round.  After all, his website touts him as a giant-corporation killer:  “Bring me your COPD, your hangnails, and irritable skin and I will get you some mo’ M-O-N-E-Yat very reasonable attorneys fees.”  Just watch for Sparky to revive the “shocking deposition” video after the current trial is over.

Next up:  FINALLY!  The summation

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, deposition, litigator, sued, cluster

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Mary L. Wade, A Toast

Posted on October 13, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

21st in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day (definitions by TheDean01):

  • agreement = a mutual understanding based on a defined set of conditions
  • amendment = a mutually approved change or addition to a previously accepted agreement
  • performance = the act of accomplishing a contracted task

We must go back to the Raiznor version of the “deposition,”  in which he characterized the contract change order as an “indemnity” designed to make KBR immune from having to pay for KBR’s alleged disregard for humans.

  • Raiznor asked Ms. Wade:  “This indemnity…   it was to keep KBR from having to do…   what?”
  • Mary paused; then, shunning his obvious attempt to lead the answer, replied:  “NO!  It was about performance”  (of the contract).  (See change orders are the rule in the article Contracts set boundaries.)

As previously noted, contracts have conditions built into them based on certain assumptions.  If the base assumptions change, then contract performance can be affected.  Therefore, when new conditions threaten one party’s ability to perform within contracted parameters, that party will request changes to the contract, particularly if the originating party (the Client) has precipitated the new conditions.  If the client (like the US of A) should contract under peacetime conditions with a prime contractor, and then drops a war into the middle of the prime contractors accepted conditions, the prime contractor will want the client (the US of A) to pay for ALL the unexpected and unpredictable costs resulting from that war.  That is the ONLY way the contractor can perform the contract as originally agreed.  Change orders are both common sense and common business practice.

But, Raiznor keeps implying that the sole purpose of the change order to the LOGCAP was to keep from having to pay the costs resulting from hazards to humans.  A legal type from KBR read out that clause in Raiznor’s “deposition;” it was a blanket phrase covering EVERYTHING.  Super Dan then asked, “Does that include US civilians…   foreign national civilians…   US military…   British military…   ”  and a few others.  The legal type replied “yes” to each, and added that the clause did not “carve out any exceptions.”  Raiznor could have recited a 1,000-page compilation of “who’s who” names and the answer “yes” would have been given for each.  There is just something about that word EVERYTHING that makes itemizations sort of pointless.  But Raiznor is trying to instill — hopefully to a pre-conditioned anti-KBR crowd — that it is only human cost that KBR disregards.  And humans make up the prospective jury.  Raiznor doesn’t need a rational verdict; a sympathetic one will do just as well.

This little ditty is the cherry on top of my ice cream and cake dessert.  Super Dan, in the edited deposition, made a super obvious observation about an (alleged) issue, and asked, “Is that correct?”  Ms. Wade answered in the affirmative, and, all we got was silence from the Big Man.  Ms. Wade then restated her answer.  It was several viewings later before I realized what had taken place:

  • Ms. Wade had answered with a very indecorous “Yep” to the super obvious question.  Maybe I’m just hoping, but, I hear just a hint of snippishness in that “yep.”  Like Young Lee, maybe she is tiring of all the really stupid questions and assertions.
  • Ms. Wade continues to look off camera into the silence.
  • Then, without raising her eyebrows, her eyes widen…   In my mind, the possibility is raised that she is witnessing a brand new shade of color as Super Dan pulls off a spontaneous impersonation of an agitated cuttlefish
  • …and she restated her answer as a decorous “Yes.”  Mollified, Super Dan continues.  What I wouldn’t give to have seen his reaction to such impertinence toward his elevated status in the legal game…   profession…   legal profession.

Mary Wade, thank you.

  • First, for maintaining your composure amid Doyle’s attempts to hijack your testimony,
  • Second, for standing firm and rebutting his misstatements of conditions, and
  • Third, (oh, be still, my beating heart)…   for just reaching out with that “yep” and tugging on SuperDan’s cape.*

Calls for another toast.  For this one, I am uncorking a new bottle of wine from the Republic of Georgia.

  • To Mary.  Composure is you.  Thanks heaps for the show.

*Ashamed, I should be — but not, I am.  I dubbed ol’ Doyle Super Dan just so I could use this line about Superman’s cape.

Next up:  Rebuttal witnesses; shouldn’t they actually know something?

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, sued, deposition, litigator, cluster

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Mary L. Wade, Fence Rider

Posted on October 12, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

20th in the series The Great Cluster Fu...   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day (definitions courtesy of TheDean01)

  • fence = a structure that defines an area; a barrier designed to keep things inside
  • fence rider = one charged with maintaining the integrity of a fence

Shockingly casual and quick — that is how Raiznor characterizes the offering and acceptance of major government-funded contracts, implying back room maneuvering for greatest personal or corporate profit.  But, Raiznor is very carefully omitting a very prominent fact:  for Ms. Wade and the other parties to be able to go over the terms and conditions of a contract, there must first be…   well…   a physical contract to go over.  This means a printed document containing terms and conditions detailing the services to be rendered, the manner in which those services are to be rendered, and payment for said rendering.  But, wait!  That’s just the simplified version of what producing that contract would entail.  There’s more:

  • Conditions and terms must include compliance with all applicable references to Federal, International, and local laws which, in turn…
  • will refer to applicable published standards for engineering, construction, worker safety, environmental concerns, which,  in turn…
  • will itemize qualification requirements for engineers, technicians, welders, chemists who, in turn…
  • will submit those documents to the contractor employing those services.

In his drive to pre-condition potential jurors in his favor, Raiznor would have jurors believe that Ms. Wade and her KBR party arrived one morning at a 9:00 a.m. meeting site, selected a random sub-contractor from a line outside on the sidewalk, dragged him inside and asked, “Would you like to receive a billion dollar contract?”  That sub-contractor said, “YES!  You betcha.”  KBR said, “Great.  All you need do is to  hire 500 people in 24 different fields, test them and get their certifications and personal information, get them to agree to do their work while under the threat of being blown up by less-than-happy locals, confirm that under every law known to man you can do all this legally, and get that back to us within 1 hour and 48 minutes after you said ‘You betcha.’  That will leave us 12 minutes to get all that you have submitted confirmed through our engineering, health-safety-environment, procurement, and legal departments AND get this 10 pound contract all typed up and printed so Ms. Wade can go over the terms and conditions with you before we scatter for lunch.”

Yeeaah…   that c-o-u-l-d happen…   IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE.

So, what does Ms. Wade do as Senior Contracts Manager?  I don’t really know, but, from what I have read on-line and heard from her testimony, and from my own industrial experiences, I think I can take a reasonable stab at an outline (if I’m off the mark, ignorance is always my fallback position):

  • She must be knowledgeable of what the client (in this case, the US of A) wants (terms, conditions, overall objectives), and, what KBR will do to perform that contract (task order).  Much of what the LOGCAP entails is standard across the board, but individual task orders will carry variations on performance expectations.
  • She DOES NOT create the terms and scope of contracts.  That task originates with the client and is fleshed out by the various disciplines within KBR (legal, procurement, health-safety-environmental, engineering, cost estimating, construction, logistics, etc.).  Her duty is to understand the completed contract and point out omissions or errors in complying with the client’s contract protocols, as well as KBR’s internal requirements.
  • She explains the terms, conditions, and scope of contracts that KBR subs down to other contractors, making certain they know performance expectations and billing protocols.
  • She raises the red flag on actions that can be interpreted as outside the client’s or KBR’s stated administrative protocols.  (That “invoicing for private security” thing is a prime example.  She cautioned — in an email bearing her correct job title — that such action was probably NOT in compliance with the LOGCAP protocol, since the military was the one to provide physical security.  She could not forbid the invoicing, only warn of its probable irregularity.)

Contracts set boundaries.  Call those boundaries fences.  All parties to that contract must operate within the fenced confines in order to claim the benefit declared in the contract.  Ever cognizant of the buzzards (litigators) and rail-birds (somebody-owes-me-something plaintiffs) trying to roost on their contract fences, corporations like KBR make it a point to toe the legal line.  That is why, like cattle ranchers, they employ fence riders such as Mary Wade (and legal experts in several fields, environmental specialists, etc.) to keep all parties in tune with the client’s wishes and all mandated legal standards.  That does not mean they will never misstep, but, that diligence removes the element of reckless disregard from their operations.

Mary Wade in western wear boots, chaps, hat, saddle, horse…   That’s a far better picture than Doyle Raiznor in blue Superman tights and red boxers.  (I apologize, Mary, for taking that liberty.  I just couldn’t resist.)

Next up:  Another toast

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigator, sued, cluster, deposition

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Mary L. Wade, Lady of the Contracts

Posted on October 8, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

19th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your words for the day:

  • avarice = an unreasonably strong desire to obtain and keep M-O-N-E-Y
  • surreal = bizarre, distorted, weirdly dreamlike

Ms. Wade seems to be the focus of Raiznor’s push to his objective, which would be Litigators’ Nirvana — the mother lode promised by a massively successful class-action lawsuit against a giant corporation.  It is a no-holds-barred campaign of avarice to get something for nothing in keeping with the mantra of the Litigation Nation…   drum-beat and lyrics supplied (oh, surprise of surprises) by litigators.

As noted in the two previous posts, ol’ Doyle used Tseng to hint at “cover-up” and “obstruction,” while trying to paint Lee as the personification of a corporate “culture of indifference” toward human safety, if that safety interfered with getting just one more dollar from that government contract.

But, KBR’s Lady of the Contracts has been cast in a different sort of role for this litigator’s rewrite of reality, one that seems to be the pivot point of his twisted path through a surreal dream-scape.  (Her image is the header on the un-ethical video displayed on Sparky’s website.  By default, she becomes the image of a greedy corporation.)

In keeping with his theme of negligent business behavior, Super Dan and Ms. Sparky have re-titled her as “senior contract negotiator” and “chief contract negotiator,” respectively, to insinuate a wide ranging latitude in dispensing taxpayers’ money.  As noted in previous posts, the correct title is Senior Contracts Manager, which carries the inference of tight control over terms and performance of contracts.  That would not be good for Raiznor’s pipe dream;  thus, the instant makeover.   You can bet that Raiznor knows Ms. Wade’s correct title; he had to have it right when he subpoenaed witnesses and documents from KBR.

That word “negotiator” has several meanings.  Super Dan used it in questions to Ms. Wade, and Ms. Wade responded in a manner that seemed to agree with his use —

  • How long did this negotiation take?  Long enough.
  • A few hours, a day?  One morning.
  • So, you are saying this whole deal was negotiated in just one morning?  Yes.   …No, we went over the terms and conditions of the contract in the morning.

It is not evident what set-up questions Raiznor employed to get Ms. Wade to think they were using her understanding of the word “negotiate” since he carefully left those on the cutting room floor.  But, when it hit her what he was driving at, she spelled out what she meant by “negotiated” —  going over the terms and conditions of the contract.  Since this was obviously the closing of a contract, signatures of all now-satisfied parties would then have been affixed to the contract.

“Closing a contract” is one of the definitions of negotiate.

“Meeting and wrangling over the how and what” of a deal is another one.  Raiznor wants you to see Mary Wade (and, by extension, KBR) as an unconscionable bargainer, hammering out quickie, lucrative deals for KBR regardless of human cost.

Raiznor, again under the spell of hot buttons, generalizes in one of his insertions, “This deal between KBR and our government was put together in a shockingly casual way in a short time...”  It must have galled him that Ms. Wade clarified what was done at that morning meeting, but he made the best of it with that spliced-in, nebulous monologue implying reckless haste in pursuit of LOGCAP money.

Next up:  Shockingly casual — only in another universe.

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Ms. Sparky, Doyle Raiznor, litigator, lawsuit, contract

 

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Manager vs. Negotiator

Posted on July 30, 2012. Filed under: KBR, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

12th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…  A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day:

  • negotiator (1) = one who converses, bargains, or discusses with another in an attempt to reach an agreement (yourdictionary.com)
  • negotiator (2) = one who concludes a business transaction (yourdictionary.com)
  • manager = an individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks (BusinessDictionary.com)

In the 5th installment of this series (The Truth Hurts), I posed three questions:  (1) Who the hell is he (Doyle Raiznor) representing, (2) who the hell is he trying to convince in the absence of a court room and jury, and (3) how much money does he expect to clear from this yellow journalism venture.  As to the client, Sparky mentions “several State National Guard Units” so that is probably Raiznor’s class-action gold mine.  That indirectly answers question number 3, in that the more claimants in a successful suit  THE GREATER THE LITIGATOR’S CUT.  That leaves just question number 2…

Who the hell is he trying to convince in the absence of a court room and jury?  In the words of the deceased scientist in Isaac Asimov’s classic, “I,Robot” (a Will Smith movie adaptation):  That, detective, is the right question.”

In the ordered setting of the judicial forum, claimant’s attorney presents his side of the argument, and the defendant’s attorney provides his side of the argument, each attempting to poke holes in the other’s claims.  That forum is presided over by a judge (a referee) in the presence of a jury which will vote on its perceptions of the opposing arguments.  For Raiznor, there’s the rub.

That ordered setting will glaringly show that, because of acts of war (you know, all that crap that can. and does, happen when you are trying to do a good job while other people are trying to kill you) and the contractual exceptions granted KBR by its client, the US of A., the claimants have no case at all.  Worse, plaintiff’s attorney has a short period of time to convince jurors who, like their clients, have had their lives abruptly impacted by government mandate.  UN-like their clients,  the jurors did not sign a contract beforehand permitting this unannounced inconvenience; they might not be receptive to “somebody-owes-me” arguments.  What’s a salty litigator to do:

 Well, there’s always jury tampering, but messing with jurors during a trial is considered unethical…   and…   in some circles…   HIGHLY ILLEGAL.  Super Dan’s retirement fund may be screaming for refreshment, but he is neither that greedy nor that stupid.  Besides, Danny Boy has been to the mountain-top and has experienced an epiphany:  If I can’t get to the impaneled jury, maybe I can taint the potential jury pool against KBR.

Since the exit of the Bush-Chaney administration and the back-off from KBR by Halliburton, negative criticism of KBR by the media has subsided considerably (no evening news hot-buttons).  Clearly The Press (with the big P) could not be counted on for pre-emptive bad-mouthing of his mark.  Gotta take matters into his own hands.

That fake deposition being touted by Sparky’s site looks for all the world like a draft of a possible strategy in attacking KBR’s defense in court.  For that purpose, it is totally legitimate.  But, Super Dan’s decision to use it in a reputation-smearing campaign against a possible court opponent clearly qualifies as unethical.  Those subpoenaed testimonies (reformatted, biased “explanations”  patched in,  packaged in  the tabloid presentation of a fictionalized “expose“) and a fake “news” site filled only with Doyle Raiznor anti-KBR propaganda have been posted on-line for months and years.  The purpose:  INSTILL THE PERCEPTION THAT KBR  CAN’T POSSIBLY BE RIGHT ABOUT ANYTHING.   The target audience:  THE POTENTIAL JURY POOL (that be the public) FOR ANY CIVIL SUITS AGAINST KBR.

And that brings us to the importance of manager versus negotiator.  One title implies “tight control” and the other, “free-wheeling  and dealing.”

Next up:  Hot-button offense

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An Inconvenient Truth

Posted on June 23, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

6th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your word for the day:

  • inconvenient = not suited to one’s comfort, purpose, or needs

Danny Boy’s (presumed) eventual client had gotten that plum assignment of away-from-the-action civilian escort.  Much less chance of becoming a combat casualty, said client being a member of a National Guard unit.  As regular army types refer to them, week-end warriors:  got the uniform, got the extra income of attending meetings (sort of a night out with the boys) and an annual summer camp outing,  while still enjoying the perks of civilian life and a job.  Bummer:  Got called up to active status.  Terrible inconvenience having to perform his part of the military reserve contract.  Worse, the only time reserves get called up is in a crises.  He got sent to a war.  Like a shooting war.  Now, that’s a bucket of ice water dumped on your week-end-warrior sense of fairness.  A guy could get hurt playing real soldier.

About the plum-ness of that assignment.  Still had the risk of hostile targeting, and, Saddam had left his house in a pretty mess.  Some nasty chemicals lying around the plant grounds.  No HAZMAT (hazardous materials) notices.  No carefully maintained MSDS (material safety data sheets).  Sort of a pot-luck mine field.  No chance for interlopers to know this right up front, whether giant, global contractor or combat grunt.  You had to tramp around a bit and look under rocks, so to speak, to identify and isolate problems.  Complicated job if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for — while looking over your shoulder for persons of ill-intent.  Did I mention that this was in a shooting-war zone where — armed or not everyone like it or notis a combatant?

And, some ugly stuff was found lurking on the plant grounds, thereby raising the possibility that personal contamination with the stuff had taken place.  It made the news.  Everything from over there made the news.  Embedded journalists, you know.  Looking for Pulitzers and career enhancements at the expense of the soldiers protecting them.  But, I digress.  Apparently, Danny Boy’s future client became ill, the cause (maybe) attributable to the ugly lurking on the grounds at Qarmat Ali. 

A gray area of knowledge here — some might call it a smoke screen.  Did the ill soldier contact Danny Boy, or did Danny Boy check the internet for casualty lists (virtual ambulance-chasing and drumming up business) and run across the ill combatant and noted the connection to the cleanup at Saddam’s toxic dump?  If so, did he leap up from his milking stool executive chair and shout, “Eureka!!!!” and rush to the unfortunate soldier and excitedly announce, “YOU MAY  BE ENTITLED TO MONEY!  Don’t know HOW yet, but, sign here, and we’ll figure it all out.”  Those smoke screens are hard to see through.

“An inconvenient truth” (sorry, Al) for Danny Boy.  He now has a client, but, he also has a problem.  The client is (or was at the time of the alleged indignity to his person), an employee of the US of A Army, which will provide medical care for his injuries.  Can’t sue the government for pain and suffering (that’s where the serious   M-O-N-E-Y  is) just because the client suffers the effects of hazardous duty while fulfilling a hazardous duty contract that he voluntarily signed.  What to do?  What to do?  Hmmmm.  How about…   oh, yea, that old qualifier:  Just find someone within 500 feet of where the soldier had been, and SUE THE BASTARDS.  Details unimportant; any litigator worth his salt can work those out later

And Danny Boy seems to be one salty litigator.

Next up:  The taming of the truth

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigator, sued, cluster, deposition, hexavalent chromium

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The Truth Hurts

Posted on June 21, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

5th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your word for the day 

  • flim-flam = (1) trick or swindle
  • flim-flam = (2) deceptive talk, talk that confuses or deceives

Lest I be guilty of not being up-front (as I am about to accuse Danny Boy and his law firm of doing) I should tell you what triggered this series of posts.  In my preceding post (No Safety in Numbers) I mentioned finding Danny Boy and his apparent venture.  The on-line post I viewed purported to be a deposition taken from employees of KBR.  That display may have started out as a deposition, but after Danny and his firm  cut their testimonies into sound bytes interspersed with silent-movie-era dialogue boards and a “let me show you what you are seeing” voice over, the deposition became a work of fiction.  The “deposition for public consumption” use, instead of being strictly an in-house litigator’s discovery tool, bothered me.  The more times I watched it, the more it just didn’t add up.  

“The Great Cluster Fu…”   series lists my objections to this tabloid opus.

Flash forward:  We are approaching Danny Boy’s opus, a grand fusion of fantasy, journalism, yellow journalism, tabloid style of story-telling, half-truths, speculations, unfounded assertions, mellow-dramatic tear jerker ending designed, tabloid-like, to help you ignore/skip/fast forward over the array of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, outlandish assertions, presented in his vague novella.  In true more-knowledgeable-than-thou-art anchor-person fashion (complete with the inability to even read the teleprompter flawlessly) he condescendingly leaves out important pieces of information in fear that you will decide the true nature of things for yourselves.  Throughout this exercise, Danny Boy has glaringly left out 3 pieces of pertinent information:

  • Who the hell he is representing.
  • who the hell he is trying to convince in the absence of a court-room and jury.
  • HOW MUCH  M-0-N-E-Y  HE EXPECTS TO CLEAR FROM THIS VENTURE OF YELLOW JOURNALISM.

Danny Boy’s failure to include the cream filling in his little Twinkie leaves me no choice but to fill the void with my own assessments.  You are forewarned.

I’m calling this hatchet job  a travesty of the justice system.  Danny Boy and his lackey Ms Sparky (we’ll get to her shortly) have created and posted this piece of propaganda and have the audacity to call it a “deposition.”  It started out as a deposition, witnesses being subpoenaed to appear and give out-of-court testimony.  These witnesses appeared and gave testimony because to not do so would result in charges of contempt of court.   Had this intended use been known before hand, I am sure KBR lawyers would have had a lot to say about allowing the depositions to be given.

Will the truth hurt your case, Danny Boy?  I think, “Probably.”  So, as we continue, I will fill in your omissions (and expose some of your commissions) from my own humble store of life experiences.

Next up:  An inconvenient truth

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigation, sued, cluster, deposition, hexavalent chromium

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No Safety in Numbers: It’s War

Posted on June 20, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

4th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your word for the day:   

  • ignore = refuse to notice.

It was while perusing the internet recentlyWait!  That should be “surfin’ the net,” shouldn’t it?  — I ran across one such super litigator who seems to have found himself a big one — a Cape Buffalo — and was angling to bring it home for proper milking.  As his luck would have it, it was standing between some bad publicity brush and a huge government contract tree.  It was trying to shake some unwanted partisan politics off one hoof while batting away the politically inspired bad press buzzing like flies around it.  The litigator must have been stunned silly, and became frantic to climb that money tree and get his.  Big downer, though:  the only way to the money tree was through that Cape Buffalo, which was very healthy, alert, and roaming free in a temporary game preserve.  In that environment, it was a legally protected species.  He knew it was gonna take a lotta work to get that baby to stand still for a little milking.  (Oh, ick!!  See the litigator salivate?)

In deference to his apparent self-image, lets call this dandy litigator Super Dan, an advocate for any reason (even if one has to be made up), but, most especially, for the  M – O – N – E – Y  (that may sound a little like unbridled greed, so let’s call it attorneys’ fees).

Okay, lets peek behind the bovine metaphor.  The cash cow that Super Dan has his eyes on is that global, multi-billion dollar contractor formerly known as Kellogg Brown and RootKBR these days.  He has taken on a client who is not an employee of KBR.  He be a  soldier.  An employee of the US of A.  Who had signed a contract of military service for the US of A.  Who sent the soldier to a war.  The same war in which the US of A contracted the assistance of KBR in refurbishing a defunct water purification plant.  As well as a host of other engineering jobs in that war zone.  Jobs that, to all intents and purposes, made KBR a valuable and functioning part of the US of A war machine.  The preserve that protected KBR from pecuniary liability was the combat theater designated by the US of A.

The  water purification plant at Qarmat Ali belonged (formerly) to one Saddam Hussein, head of state, State of Iraq.  Which Head objected fiercely to having his State invaded for any reason.  Brought out his fighting side.  And all his fighting forces.  But, for all that, he was a bad poker player, and lost the plant in a high stakes game with the US of A.  He wasn’t any better at domestic house-keeping, either, as it turns out, and had left the place in a mess.  He saw no reason to take the time to clean it up for the new owner.

The US of A decided it needed that water plant in operation and plunked hundreds, if not thousands, of civilian support personnel into a hot combat theater.  Forbade them from carrying weapons to defend themselves, but, thoughtfully enough, furnished its armed combat personnel to escort and watch over the unarmed civilian work force while they were outside designated “safe” zones.  Like our salivating litigator above, lets gloss over the fact that a lone mortar shell (or RPG) exploding nearby will take out both the unarmed civilian and the armed, combat-ready soldier.

In a combat zone, everyone is a combatant.  NO ONE is safe.  That is something our drooling litigator has chosen to ignore while looking for a nice “safe” place to set up his milking operation.

Next up:  The truth hurts.

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigation, sued, cluster, deposition, hexavalent chromium

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It’s Not My Fault!

Posted on June 11, 2012. Filed under: KBR, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

1st of 25 in the series  The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation  practices

Bil Keene’s Family Circus kids, in response to mom’s “Who did this?”  replied, “Not me!”  Mr. Not Me kept out of sight and lived in a sweat because he never knew when he might be fingered as the fall guy for someone else’s pratfall.

Mr. Not Me, you may try to hide, but, invisible or not, you live in the Litigation Nation (a.k.a., the U.S. of A.).  Here, nothing that someone does is ever his own fault or responsibility.  For you, there is a litigation attorney out there right now trying to dig up someone — anyone — with a cock-eyed story fingering you as the patsy who needs to pay for his very own mistake.  Specifics don’t really matter.  These litigators are really good at sleight of words, and, if you were breathing air in the same city at the time of the alleged indignity, your non-involvement can become deep involvement.  You could be sued, so, review everything you’ve done in the past ten years or so.  Be prepared to defend yourself against…   (?) to be announced by the litigator…   accussed possibly by someone you have never heard of.  Don’t think you have all the files from everything you did even 5 years ago?  Tsk!  Too bad, ’cause, believe me, that litigator will seize upon that as “still missing critical documentation”   Doubt your vulnerability?  Check out these unwitting targets.

Our old bud, Mickey D.  Been serving coffee to this little old lady (and a whole nation) for years.  HOT coffee, to be sure.  She wouldn’t have it any other way.  Seventy years she has been working out the principles of gravity and thermodynamics.  She knew that the handles on porcelain tea-  and coffee-cups stayed cool to the touch even though the lip-burning HOT liquid in the cup was…   well…   hot!  She knew that coffee was brewed using HOT water.  She knew that coffee kept its flavor while it was HOT.  She knew when she ordered and accepted it that her coffee was HOT.   She knew she should be careful in handling it, ’cause gravity works 100% of the time, and, that, regardless of circumstances, HOT always travels from a place of higher concentration (that coffee)  to a place of lower concentration (her lap).  Thus, the tendency to corral the stuff behind an insulated barrier from which it can be sipped carefully and safely.  EVERY coffee drinker since the invention of fire knows you got a tiger by the tail and, if you let it go, it gonna bite the livin’ crap outtayuh.

When acquiring all this data on heat hazards, there must have been some practical exercises reinforcing the knowledge.  She must have spilled hot stuff on herself numerous times during that 70-plus years of schooling.  Did she sue her parents for her klutziness when she was a minor?  Or her children when they were adults?  Or her husband when he brewed coffee for breakfast and she spilled the stuff onto her lap?  No!  And why not?  Because, it’s what everyone does from time to time.  That’s life!  They don’t call it the school of hard knocks for nothing.

Yeah, there is another reason.  None of them were loaded with money nor had to drag around a lot of bad press engendered by the nightly news and stoked by an unknown number of litigation attorneys.   They weren’t big business.

Next up:  Brain-dead juries

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigation, sued, cluster, deposition

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