May 03, 2017 Articles

Defenses for Government Contractors in Combat Zone Cases: The Political Question Doctrine

By Justin T. Green

The United States has engaged in combat activities since shortly after September 11, 2001. During this time, the use of private contractors to actively support U.S. military operations has risen to unprecedented levels. In re KBR, Inc., Burn Pit Litig., 744 F.3d 326, 331 (4th Cir. 2014). Contractors perform a wide range of activities, many of which would meet anyone’s definition of combat.          

Over the past decade, many personal injury and wrongful death cases have been brought by military members and families against military contractors for injuries and death in combat zones. For the most part, the lawsuits are based on state negligence or products liability laws, and the plaintiffs face an array of defenses that may close the courthouse doors depending on the circumstances giving rise to the claims.

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