PSC Asks Supreme Court to Hear Battlefield Contracting Case

Arlington, Va., February 11, 2014—The Professional Services Council yesterday filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in the United States Supreme Court recommending that the court hear an appeal involving KBR.

Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that a suit against KBR over federal contract work could go forward despite prohibitions on suing the government and contractors performing government work. In its brief, PSC addresses how a specific Federal Acquisition Regulation clause, FAR 52.228-7 titled “Insurance – Liability to Third Persons,” included in those battlefield cost-reimbursement contracts, controls the relationship between the government and its prime contractors and between the prime contractor and third parties.

“The FAR clause enshrines the well-settled position that the government is generally liable for injuries or death arising out of the prime contractor’s performance of the cost-reimbursement contract,” said PSC Executive Vice President and Counsel Alan Chvotkin.

The case involves a soldier who died in a tragic accident when he was electrocuted while showering in a building at a forward operating base near Baghdad, Iraq. Since the law prohibits soldiers or their estates from suing the federal government, the soldier’s estate brought state-law tort claims against KBR, which provided facilities maintenance and other essential combat support services to the Army in the Iraq war zone. KBR, which is a PSC member company, filed its petition for review with the Supreme Court on January 8, 2014.

The text of the PSC brief is available here.

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About PSC: PSC is the voice of the government professional and technical services industry. PSC’s more than 370 member companies represent small, medium, and large businesses that provide federal agencies with services of all kinds, including information technology, engineering, logistics, facilities management, operations and maintenance, consulting, international development, scientific, social, environmental services, and more. Together, the trade association’s members employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states. Follow PSC on Twitter @PSCSpeaks and @StanSoloway.