RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A Marine who was shocked while trying to install a wiring box at the military base near Fallujah, Iraq, cannot pursue negligence claims against defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, the 4th Circuit ruled.
Peter Taylor had sought relief from the appellate court after a federal judge dismissed the claim in April 2010. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar had agreed with KBR that Taylor lacked subject-matter jurisdiction since the political question doctrine bars negligence claims. Doumar also found that the "combat activities" exemption of the Federal Tort Claims Act pre-empts the suit.
The 4th Circuit declined to revive Taylor's claim, but it did vacate the trial court's finding about the pre-emption issue since the lack of jurisdiction removes the judges need to consider this aspect of the case.
Taylor, a hospital corpsman for the Marines, had been stationed at a camp about 15 miles outside Fallujah at the time of the July 2007 accident. A generator malfunction had incapacitated the tank ramp that troops used to maintain Marine tanks, Humvees and other vehicles.
Power outages were a recurring problem for the Marines, so Taylor and others tried to find another source of electricity for the ramp, ultimately deciding to install a wiring box and hook it up to their generator. KBR technicians who had arrived at the base to work on another repair job allegedly knew that the Marines are working with the wiring on the generator. Nevertheless, one of KBR's technicians turned on the generator power while Taylor was working on it, causing him to get electrocuted, according to the complaint.
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