Wires that were poorly grounded in an electric power washer allegedly caused the death of a 23-year-old National Guardsman in Iraq in 2005. The soldier was washing a military vehicle with a high-powered washer and on active duty at the time of the fatal accident.

The Fifth Circuit ruled that local defense contractors may be held liable in state and federal courts for injuries and deaths that occur at home and overseas. Companies in states such as Louisiana may be held liable for wrongful death claims that occur all around the globe.

The family of the deceased service member filed suit in state court against Arkel International, KBR Technical Services and Kellogg, Brown & Root Services. The family did not learn for several years about the involvement of Arkel, which is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The parents also filed claims in Louisiana state court, which were stayed in anticipation of the Texas ruling. The legal team ultimately chose a strategy to dismiss the Texas case and follow through with the Louisiana state proceedings.

Regardless of legal strategy, the most important issue is the wrongful death claims against local corporations in state and federal court, even when the injury occurred abroad in Iraq.

Families have the right to be treated fairly and get compensated for their injuries and the suffering of losing a loved one to this kind of tragedy.

A very important procedural issue in this case is the filing of timely motions in court. This issue brings to light the importance of having experienced legal representation when filing suit in civil court.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Court Revives Suit Over Electrocuted Guardsman,” Cameron Langford, Mar. 1, 2012