Lawyer: Military's housing choice irrelevant
A federal jury can determine whether a Defense contractor is responsible for the electrocution death of a Shaler soldier without second-guessing the military's choice of where to house troops in Iraq, a lawyer for the soldier's parents argued Tuesday.
The jury doesn't have to decide whether the Army made the right choice in housing Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, in a building with a substandard electrical system to determine whether KBR Inc. of Houston had the discretion to fix the water pump that electrocuted Maseth while he was taking a shower, said William Stickman.
If the jury decides the Army tied KBR's hands, “we simply lose,” he told a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was hearing oral arguments in the Downtown federal courthouse.
Cheryl Harris of Cranberry and Douglas Maseth of Allison Park want the appeals court to reinstate their lawsuit against KBR Inc. for the Jan. 2, 2008, death of their son at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer dismissed the lawsuit in July based on her finding that she couldn't rule on whether KBR caused Maseth's death without evaluating the Army's decision to house him and other soldiers in the building.
Stickman argued that KBR's contract with the military gave it the discretion to analyze and fix problems during service calls it made to the barracks before Maseth's death.
Lawrence Ebner, one of KBR's lawyers, argued there was no way for a jury to rule on whether KBR was responsible for Maseth's death without probing the military's decision.
Circuit Court Judge D. Michael Fisher questioned whether the case really requires the jury to determine whether the military made the right decision.
The case seems to come down to “was it KBR's fault, or was it the military's decision that led to Sgt. Maseth's electrocution,” he said.
Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith also said it seemed like a factual question rather than a policy question.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Approval for Wal-Mart closer in McCandless
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- Grand jury report says Western Psych failed to cooperate with police
- UPMC, Pittsburgh drop tax-status fight
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion
- Evacuees return to Young Hotel apartments in Pitcairn
- TSA finds .380-caliber handgun in carry-on bag at Pittsburgh International Airport
- Pittsburgh crime down overall in 2013 but rapes, homicides increased
- Allegheny County alert system expands to public works, health
- Newsmaker: Kevin Hogan
- Turtle Creek’s man death ruled a homicide