Halliburton used truckers as 'decoys' in Iraq, resulting in unnecessary deaths
30 March 2005
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA, March 30 (The Press Enterprise, Riverside, CA) -- The daughter of a Riverside truck driver killed in Iraq filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing military contractor Halliburton
Corp. of wrongful death and fraud in a deadly ambush that left
her father and six other workers dead or missing. ###
Tony D. Johnson, a 47-year- old driver for the Halliburton
subsidiary KBR, was driving one of 20 fuel trucks headed to
Baghdad International Airport on April 9, 2004, when insurgents
armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons
ambushed the convoy. Johnson's remains were identified three
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside, accuses
Halliburton and KBR of intentionally deploying Johnson's fleet
of military camouflage vehicles as a "decoy" to divert enemy
forces away from a second convoy in civilian trucks also headed
to the airport.
The second convoy, which traveled a different route, arrived
unscathed. "Instead of ensuring their safety, Halliburton turned
one of its civilian-driven convoys into an enemy decoy with no
concern for the lives of the drivers, forcing them to
unwittingly become silent American heroes and casualties of
war," the family's attorney said in a statement released Tuesday.
Johnson's daughter, April, now 25, could not be reached for
comment. His ex-wife, Kim, declined comment this week, referring
questions to attorney Ramon Lopez, who could not be reached for
Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Halliburton,
declined by e-mail on Monday to discuss the lawsuit. Company
officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
"KBR's top priority has always been the safety and security of
its employees," Hall wrote in her Monday e-mail. "KBR has
cooperated fully as the Army has spent the past year
investigating these attacks, and we will continue to do
everything we can to help piece together the events of April 9."
The lawsuit is the first of several expected to be filed by
Lopez's firm, which represents other drivers and their families,
according to the attorney's statement.
The lawsuit alleges that the convoy, originally headed to
another camp, was rerouted to the airport just hours before
leaving. The trucks lacked armor plating, the drivers were
unarmed, and Army reservist accompanied only some of the trucks.
An August 2004 Army report found the convoy's guide had used his
boot to draw a rough diagram of the route in the sand before the
"The KBR drivers had no type of maps," the redacted report
states. "Many of the drivers both military and KBR did not
understand the route and knew only to follow the vehicle in
front of them."
The lawsuit argues that KBR officials should have known that the
convoy was headed into an "explosive war zone." Insurgents had
attacked another convoy on the road just hours earlier,
according to the lawsuit.
On the road, Johnson's convoy came under fire "from hundreds of
enemy forces using women and children as shields," the lawsuit
states. The attack left seven truckers and two soldiers dead or
missing, and 11 other men wounded.
The lawsuit also accuses Halliburton of luring employees such as
Johnson via deceptive advertising, which suggested that workers
could earn as much as $ 200,000 but concealed the hazardous
conditions in Iraq. One recruiting Web site assured civilian
applicants that "with new heightened security, you'll be 100
The lawsuit names Halliburton and its subsidiaries KBR and
Service Employees International. It seeks an unspecified amount
in general and punitive damages, burial expenses, lost wages and
In her e-mail, Hall, the Halliburton spokeswoman, said that KBR
"remains deeply saddened by this tragedy," but its employees in
Iraq "understand the dangers and difficult conditions involved
in working in a war zone."
Loved ones at Johnson's funeral last year remembered the
lifelong Riverside resident as a hard-working, quiet and
generous man with an easy-going manner and a good sense of humor.
"He was over there to help people, to help rebuild Iraq, and he
went there for adventure," Kim Johnson said last year.