Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blackwater: The Legal Front

In case you're wondering (as I was) what the latest is on the legal front with respect to the wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater (noted in this post and this one), the answer comes from a story out of Raleigh, North Carolina:

Private security contractor Blackwater USA is seeking $10 million from the attorney representing the estates of four employees killed and mutilated in Iraq, arguing their families breached the security guards' contracts by suing the company for wrongful death.

Blackwater has also asked a federal court to move the dispute into arbitration, having failed so far in its ongoing efforts to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Arbitration is necessary "in order to safeguard both (Blackwater's) own confidential information as well as sensitive information implicating the interest of the United States at war," attorneys for Blackwater Security Consulting, a unit of Moyock-based Blackwater USA, wrote in a petition filed December 20.

Dan Callahan, a California-based attorney representing the families, called the claim "appalling."

"This is a shock-and-awe tactic," Callahan said Friday. Blackwater's attorneys declined to comment.

There's a business model at stake in this litigation--not one that should be encouraged in a democracy.