HOUSTON, July 12, 2011: Last Friday in federal court in Houston, a Porter Hedges trial team representing Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) secured victory in a jury trial alleging rape, sexual harassment, and fraud. After hearing almost four weeks of testimony, jurors rejected claims by a former employee that she was drugged and raped by several KBR firefighters while working for the company in Iraq in 2005. The jury also rejected the claim that KBR committed fraud by "inducing her to enter into an employment contract." In addition to alleged actual damages, the plaintiff sought as much as 5 percent of KBR’s net worth in punitive damages, amounting to more than $145 million. The accuser claimed that KBR condoned a hostile work environment in Iraq and defrauded her by not disclosing that danger when she signed her employment contract.
Over the course of the trial, the defense team was able to raise questions about the credibility of the accuser’s story, demonstrate inconsistencies in her medical records and statements to authorities, and provide expert witnesses who refuted her date rape drug claim.
“We were confident that once our trial team from Porter Hedges had the opportunity to present all of the evidence in this case, the jury would be convinced that KBR was not at fault in this matter,” said Mark Lowes, KBR’s Vice-President for Litigation.
The KBR trial team was led by Porter Hedges litigation partners Dan Hedges and Joanne Vorpahl. “We have known the truth, and KBR has known the truth for a long time now," said Hedges outside the downtown Houston federal courthouse. "We're very relieved and gratified to get that out to the public.”
In her closing argument, Vorpahl urged the jury to “reject the fiction” that was the accuser’s story and rely on the facts to make its decision. After just under 10 hours of deliberations, the jurors concluded that no rape was committed and that KBR did not commit fraud.
Led by Hedges and Vorpahl, the trial team also included associates Susan Cates, Blake Runions, and Stephanie Holcombe.
For more information on the verdict, please follow the links below.
“Jury rejects woman's rape claims in KBR suit,” Houston Chronicle (July 9, 2011)
“Jurors Side with KBR in Rape Trial,” KPRC TV (July 8, 2011)
“Federal jury: No rape, no fraud in KBR case,” KHOU TV (July 8, 2011)
“Jury sides with KBR in rape case,” KTRK TV Houston (July 8, 2011)
“Judge awards KBR lawyers court costs in rape trial,” Houston Chronicle (September 28, 2011)
“Alleged KBR Rape Victim Told to Pay Court Costs,” Law360 (September 28, 2011)