Saturday, November 21, 2009

Progressive Working Group gathering/Nearly $3 million awarded in KBR rape claim

 There will also be another Statewide Progressive Working Group gathering on Sun., Nov. 22 in Columbia, and Jamie Raskin (State Senator rep. Montgomery Co.) will talk about the accomplishments of the Group, which formed last year. Because of its efforts, he was elected, and three of the 14 bills supported by the group did pass in the Annapolis 2009 session.  The meeting will run from 1:30 to 5 PM at the Howard County Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, MD 21044-3411.  It will start with a welcome from Howard County Delegate Elizabeth Bobo.  Call Cindy Farquhar at 443 604 2298 or write farquhar.cindy7 at




Nearly $3 million awarded in KBR rape claim

Company challenges arbitrator's decision



Nov. 19, 2009, 7:35PM


A nearly $3 million arbitration award won by a former KBR employee who said she was raped in Iraq was applauded by Houston attorneys who represented her and a Humble woman suing the military contractor for negligence.


Tracy K. Barker, wife of a U.S. Army sergeant and the mother of five, was awarded $2.93 million in private arbitration proceedings in Houston this week. Barker, contacted Thursday at her home in North Carolina, declined to discuss the award.

“As far as the award as it stands, we can live with it,“ said Michael Conway, an Ohio attorney representing Barker. “We're upset because KBR thinks they can just appeal this and keep it going, when it's supposed to be binding arbitration.”


A spokeswoman for KBR confirmed the company has challenged the award.


“KBR disagrees with the interim ruling and has filed a motion for modification of the arbitration award," said a statement from Heather Browne, KBR Inc.'s director of communications. “However, the decision validates what KBR has maintained all along; that the arbitration process is truly neutral and works in the best interest of the parties involved.”


Browne added: “It is important to note that at no time has there been a finding of rape as Ms. Barker claims.”


Both women have been forced into private arbitration proceedings due to language in their KBR employment contracts instead of having juries decide their cases, lawyers in the case said.


Other issues go to court


“Arbitration, generally speaking, favors employers, and, because it does, they sneak it into contracts” said Houston attorney Todd Kelly, who represents ex-KBR employee Jaime Leigh Jones. “It's only employers who move to compel arbitration, and they do that because they know their odds of winning are greater in front of an arbitrator.”


Jones, of Conroe, contends she was gang-raped by KBR employees days after her arrival in Baghdad in July 2005. A federal appeals court in September ordered her claims of negligence and sexual assault against KBR be heard by an arbitrator, while assault, battery, false imprisonment and other issues will be decided in district court.


Kelly, who represented Barker at one point, said he was pleased by the size of her arbitration award but said a court jury would have ordered a “much greater award.”


Barker worked for KBR in Basra, Iraq, in 2005, when a U.S. State Department employee, Ali Mokhtare, attacked her after calling her to his quarters to fix an air conditioner, according to her lawyer.


Barker also contends she was raped later by a KBR employee.


Copyright © 2009 The Houston Chronicle


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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