Part of the complication of having a growing number of contractors in a war zone is that contractors can sue more easily than soldiers. Exhibit A is a case decided this week, brought by a Kellogg, Brown and Root employee. Police adviser Richard Aiello sued the company for $2 million after he allegedly slipped and was “seriously injured” in a KBR latrine with loose tiles in Baghdad.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel, of the Southern District of New York, threw out the suit. He ruled that KBR couldn’t be sued because the toilet in question was in the middle of a combat zone: “Tort claims against government contractors arising out of combatant activities are preempted by the unique federal interests that underlie the combatant activities,” his 28-page decision said. “The creation and maintenance of toilets at Camp Shield was active logistical support of combat operations, both necessary to and in direct connection with actual combat.”
Not sure what’s more needed here: tort reform, or toilet reform. In any event, this suit, and others like it, are just a small reason the war in Iraq has cost us about $1 trillion.