We’ll start with this decision and work backwards.
The pages in this forum will include the supporting documents and court rulings.
TEXAS DISTRICT COURT RULES IRAQ WAR NOT LIFE THREATENING
US district judge Melinda Harmon finally issued a decision in the Eysselinck case on 12 November ruling that “there was insufficient proof to the symptoms of PTSD because 1) the decedent had not been exposed personally to life-threatening events and 2) had not been diagnosed with PTSD prior to his suicide.
There is more absurdity where that came from: ‘For example, the Magistrate Judge reviewed the ALJ’s supporting evidence for the lack of proof of PTSD such as 1) the lack of life-threatening events experienced by decedent and 2) the fact decedent did not receive any psychiatric examination before his suicide.’
There is really no point in arguing with anyone so far removed from reality as to make a judicial finding that seven months of exposure to a war zone is not life threatening. It’s almost comical coming from people who live such a sheltered and privileged life. But what is genuinely frightening is the fact that Harmon is the fourth civilian judge who endorsed this lunacy over the past five years and that she is a district court judge, not a mere administrative judge or magistrate dealing with misdemeanors.
This willfully obtuse ruling is the latest outrage in a concerted campaign to deny civilian contractors their rights under the Defense Base Act and pass off the costs and burden of war to injured civilians and their survivors. The ramifications are many more needless deaths, violence and suffering for as many as 600,000 contractors returning from the war zones with mental and neurological injuries.
Is this a miscarriage of justice or rather a fair reflection of what society has come to believe, that going to war is much like playing a video game, coupled with the dismissive attitude of ‘since I won’t ever have to go anyhow, who gives a damn?’
Judge Harmon hauled out a 1935 Supreme Court ruling (Del Vecchio v. Bowers) to further scale down the presumption in the Act [(d) that the injury was not occasioned by the willful intention of the injured employee to injure or kill himself or another]. The concepts of wrongful death, duty of care and criminal negligence have now been abandoned and death has become a clear legal advantage for the insurance industry since dead men can’t talk. Have any misgivings yet? The voluminous nonsense from Dr Carroll Brodsky (age 83), who had always testified against claimants and who repeatedly assured the ALJ that the onset of PTSD symptoms are immediately after the trauma does not constitute “competent evidence”. It constitutes a felony, namely perjury and obstruction of justice not only tolerated by this judge, but also touted as “expert testimony”. PTSD was only officially recognized in the DSM III in 1980.
She also ruled that neither the benefit review board nor the district court can reweigh or reappraise the evidence, in other words the ALJ (administrative law judge) is always 100% right, like some infallible deity. All the ALJ needs is the deposition of one or two former deputy coworkers (eager to be promoted) that there was NO security threat in Iraq (Aug 2003 – Feb 2004), only bandits but not insurgents, to trump the overwhelming objective evidence to the contrary. This includes work reports, media reports, company directives and the military’s own threat assessments, much of which is readily available on the public record. Universally acknowledged truths and plain common sense are suddenly dead wrong. The earth is flat again and seven months in the war zone is no longer life threatening, even when you have a price on you head. Despite irrefutable proof in the record that Iraqi section leaders resigned because there was a price on their head, drawing the logical conclusion that the head of their American task leader would earn an even bigger price is too difficult for the robes to grasp. Perhaps a trip to Dover air force base would convince them, but then again don’t count on it. Not exposed to life threatening events? Is this a sadistic sick joke just for the fun of dragging a devastated family through five years of vicious court battles?
Everyone knows that MH (who replaced Tim Eysselinck) and BM told a pack of transparent lies about Tim’s activities and threat exposure to the court, easily disproved if anyone had bothered to ask us or his Iraqi trainees or soldiers stationed at Taji or in the Green Zone. We all know that he was out at the work sites almost daily; that he participated in clearance operations of live munitions and demolitions of mega-bombs and took the pictures. Hartling (who falsely claimed clearance operations only started in March 2004) also kept quiet about events on the road trip from Baghdad to Amman in mid-December 2003 and Marshall concealed the truth about the deadly UN headquarters explosion in August 2003 during a demining press conference. Their self-serving lies have seriously undermined every case of civilian contractors seeking treatment because the burden of proof re threat exposure has now become almost impossible to meet with this inane legal precedent. Note to contractors: Do NOT obey your non-disclosure statements, tell your family and get proof of injuries and traumatic events before they bribe you coworkers to deny what happened or change the paperwork, there are many such cases in the court files.
We have long ago come to understand that the government and judiciary view civilian contractors as disposable war mules but kindly spare us this pretense of justice and due process in the future. We can really do without all the insults added to injury with blatant falsehoods endorsed as fact. It seems the higher up the chain of justice one goes the more bizarre, biased and irrational the rulings become, misstating evidence in the record, disregarding favorable findings of fact (airplane incident; impulsive act, irrational decision etc.) disregarding the law (special zone of danger doctrine; section 20 presumptions) and just ignoring most important legal and factual points raised as “de minimis” – not worthy of the court’s time.
If the government doesn’t want to pay measly death benefits to the survivors of warriors any longer then at least have the decency to say so in plain language from the start; no need to breach our contracts and go waste everyone’s time, energy and money on these legal charades. But most of all spare us your mind-boggling lies: war is inherently life threatening no matter what spin you try put on it. It’s self-evident that handling or just being in close proximity to unexploded ordinance in a war zone is especially life threatening, even when done occasionally. While the government bails out the corporations who fight our claims with billions of dollars and grants them obscene profit margins (up to 500%) on our labor, the orphans of those who made the ultimate sacrifice get nothing at all. Let them eat cake; and foist your blame onto them to boot. War after all is a cakewalk, at least according to these modern-day Marie Antoinettes.
The courts may be too busy to do justice and deem the preventable deaths of civilian contractors unworthy of their precious time but let the facts speak for themselves. These are just some of the exhibits the courts refuse to consider, just ask if you need more to make up our mind. The jury is out, and those who actually spent time in a war zone decide if Tim Eysselinck was exposed to life-threatening events in Iraq or not. You decide if the corporations and insurance companies should be rewarded for failing to diagnose and treat their workers for the signature wounds of the war (PTSD, depression and TBI) that caused this tragedy in the first place.
Lets put a stop to the dishonoring of his memory, his sacrifice and life-long service to his country right here and now. We are at the mercy of judges who have forsaken the sacred trust of fairness and objectivity, who cover up the truth and openly mock us, disparage our work with barely concealed contempt. Never again should this kind of travesty be allowed to happen with our silent complicity. Let’s publish and be damned.