On January 23, 2019, Administrative Law Judge Carrie Bland approved the settlement of the Defense Base Act law suit against KBR, Inc. The lawsuit was brought by Handley Farah & Anderson on behalf of Ms. Ahlam Al-Zajrawee concerning grievous injuries she suffered while working as a security guard for U.S. contractor, KBR, in Iraq. During the Iraq war, Ms. Al-Zajrawee was employed by KBR to screen women entering the U.S. military base Camp Echo in Diwaniyah, Iraq. Targeted for working with U.S. allies, Ms. Al-Zajrawee was shot in the head on her way to work in May 2004, resulting in the loss of both of her eyes and her sense of smell, and was left to die. Overcoming significant odds, Ms. Al-Zajrawee survived and was ultimately provided refugee-status in the United Kingdom.
The lawsuit alleged that her employer, KBR, refused to provide Ms. Al-Zajrawee compensation owed to her under the Defense Base Act, which protects workers injured or killed while working under U.S. government contractors abroad. The settlement provides disability and medical benefits owed to Ms. Al-Zajrawee resulting from the tragic incident she suffered while assisting the U.S. and its allies.
Counsel for the Plaintiff, Matthew Handley, commented “No amount of money can restore Ms. Al-Zajrawee’s health and quality of life she enjoyed prior to this horrific incident. We hope that she can, however, now have closure to this chapter of her life and use the compensation awarded in this settlement to improve her life and that of her family members who have supported her. The U.S. is only able to successfully prosecute its overseas wars with the help of host-country nationals such as Ms. Al-Zajrawee, who very nearly paid the ultimate sacrifice for providing such help. It is important that the companies who employee these vital workers are not allowed to exploit them.”