In modern conflict areas, corporate policy and economic concerns can complicate security protocols and military missions. Incidents of negligence, abuse, fraud, personal injury liability and wrongful death can occur, even in a war zone. It is not unpatriotic to seek redress against corporations that have put their profits and convenience above their responsibility to our fighting men and women, their civil contract employees or foreign citizens.
Members of our military face great risk, but it is not their duty to face hazardous exposure to improperly managed dump sites or burn pits, electrified plumbing, or unreasonably unsafe construction sites. Civilian contractors in war zones hire on to hazardous jobs and working conditions, but that does not allow their employers to completely disregard their safety.
No one, not one of our brave men and women, military or contract employee, not any of the citizens of Iraq or Afghanistan should have to face gross negligence or fraud by US war contractors.
Operating under US contract in Afghanistan and Iraq, corporations can still beiable under US law for cases of wrongful death, gross negligence, fraud, and abuse. Just because they operate in dangerous areas does not excuse a company from wrongful acts.
As with so many other corporations, if profits and expediency are prioritized over human health and safety, people can get hurt or killed. Often in those cases, the only remedy available is a lawsuit.
Lawsuits are by no means a panacea and are the venue of last resort. Neverheless, sometimes lawsuits function as the best regulators. A lawsuit will not heal an injury or bring back a lost loved one, but the exercise of justice and the repayment for damage done can help victims and their families survive and put their lives back together as best as they can.
In a war zone, soldiers are prepared and trained to fight an enemy. Combat obviously entitles inherent risk. The policy of the armed forces is to train individuals to put them at risk for national security and to protect our interests. However, if flaws or shortcomings in an improperly constructed or maintained facility lead to injury or death, the corporation is liable to be liable.
When a driver working for a defense contractor is sent unarmed and untrained into a known, active battlefield, this goes beyond any reasonable risk they may have signed up for on taking the job. If as part of a corporate policy, employees are sent into hazardous situations with not only no warning but also the implied promise of safety, this is not collateral damage or an unavoidable casualty. This is gross negligence. This can be wrongful death. In our system, this act and this corporation may only be answerable to a lawsuit.
If a corporation poses soldiers, employees and local citizens to hazardous, life-threatening chemicals in an open burn pit or dump area, regulators may not have power to do anything other than request a clean up or levy a fine. Victims often have to seek their own redress.
Similarly, if a soldier is electrocuted in a barracks shower because of improper wiring, or a contract employee suffrage injury in a collapse of an inadmissible constructed building, there may or may not be criminal wrongdoing, but the corporation behind the negligent building practice may also face civil liability. These are stories of incidents that have allegedly occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Whether we approve or not, corporations play a vital role in our modern military activity. Companies are profiting from our wars and military reconstruction efforts. Unfortunately, corporations are rarely adequate at policing themselves when it comes to protecting their employees.
As we grow more dependent on corporate contractors to participate in military actions, we need to safeguard the system under which their employees are protected as well as the rights of military men and women.
There is a justice system within the military built to deal with violations of military personnel. For US corporations though, we rely on US laws and regulations. There may be cause to involve the criminal courts, but corporate policies and behaviors that result in injury or death often end up in the civil justice system. There, actions rarely on victims coming forward and filing suit on their own, with the help of their lawyers.
In our modern corporate run society, the civil justice system is very often the only effective regulator. When corporations enter the battlefields, the civil justice system must be prepared to follow.
In the criminal system, prison sentences and fines are the deterrents that make the laws effective. In the civil system, monetary penalties not only aim to help the victims but also hopefully deter future acts and protect others from becoming victims themselves.