Why Jamie Leigh Jones Can’t Take Halliburton to Court

UPDATE: For more on this story, click here.

Back in December, we learned the painful story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad. Jones filed a lawsuit, arguing that she had been raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally."

Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

This week, it appears that Jones is without legal recourse.
Thanks to an order signed by Paul Bremer, employees of U.S. contractors in Iraq are beyond the reach of the Iraqi criminal justice system, leaving them effectively in a legal black hole.... They could technically be tried in U.S. federal court for offenses committed in Iraq, but logistically that would be very difficult and the Justice Department has shown no interest in prosecuting Jones's case, meaning her assailants almost certainly won't face any criminal penalties.
But, to make things worse, as Peggy Garrity points out in an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times, Jones also will likely be unable to pursue a lawsuit in civil court. For one thing, Halliburton claims it has mysteriously lost the doctor's report and photographs taken by a military doctor the day after the rape occurred, so it would hard for her to build a case in the first place. But even if she could, her employment contract stipulated that disputes would be resolved through a binding arbitration process, which lacks (among other things) a jury, rules of evidence, an appeals process, and -- perhaps most importantly -- media access and a transcript. Federal courts in Texas, Garrity notes, have recently proven fastidious about upholding binding arbitration clauses in all cases.
Jones couldn't seek criminal justice against her attackers, and then she couldn't seek civil justice, either.

It's the result of "tort reform."

Garrity's op-ed is worth reading in its entirety.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.