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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Business = C-A-S-H-C-O-W

Posted on June 18, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

3rd in the series THE GREAT CLUSTER FU…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your word for the day: 

  • cash cow = A steady source of income.

There are many, many litigation attorneys.  Competition for clients must be fierce.  So fierce, in fact, they can’t simply wait for a mark injured party to walk in and drop a big suit on the desk.  They gotta sound the drums and beat the bushes trying to scare up prey business.  In the old days, they used to chase ambulances…   literally.  Sign up that client while he’s still woozy and bleeding.  Frowned upon by government, so, that was deemed unethical practice.  (Irony?  Politicians deeming another profession “unethical”?)

What’s a starving litigator to do?  You and your buds get together and urge the politicos (how many of them graduated from the same law school and would be practicing law again after being voted out of office?} to make it legal to advertise for business…   you know, chase all the ambulances at the same time in a virtual environment.  So, now, any time a story breaks about some study showing that a popular drug MAY have bad side effects (death is always an eye-catcher),  the clarion call-to-arms goes out, “IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE (that means a dead relative) HAVE EVER USED (insert brand name) OR BEEN WITHIN 500 FEET OF SOMEONE WHO DID. YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO MONEY.”  There are a lot of “entitled” individuals out there, and recruitment operations will get lots of sign-ups.  Out of that, there will be enough that can be squeezed into the case parameters to promise a big payday for the litigator.  Now, the litigator doesn’t give a rat about your dead relatives, no matter how soothing his bedside manner.  It’s a big share of the expected settlement M-O-N-E-Y that he’s after.

It doesn’t matter whether the plaintiff really has a good claim.  So many frivolous claims get filed against businesses that they even have a name:  nuisance lawsuits.  It is often cheaper for the business to settle out-of-court (whether merited or not) than to spend thousands more at trial (win or lose); after all, you might as well use that liability insurance you’ve been paying for.  Attorneys specializing in this have found their spot at the milk farm and make a living tugging on the mere threat to file nuisance claims much like a farmer works a cow’s udder…   and associated parts.

Big business = Holy Cow!  There are those who aspire to the heights.  They are not content to milk those compliant domesticated cows, no sir-ree.  Here, we got your bona fide supermen, fearless milkers/litigators who brashly march that milking stool toward the business end of a Cape Buffalo, our metaphorical equivalent of BIG BUSINESS — the big ones that don’t keep a lawyer on retainer…   they have legal DEPARTMENTS at their beck and call.  True, there is the risk of some heavy-duty trampling, but, if you work it right…   lordy, lordy what a payday.

Next up:  No safety in numbers

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

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