Jury finds Iraq war contractor responsible for soldiers' diseases, orders $85 million payment

A jury has ordered an American military contractor to pay $85 million after finding it guilty of negligence for illnesses suffered by a dozen Oregon soldiers who guarded an oilfield water plant during the Iraq war.

The jury deliberated for just two days before reaching a decision Friday against Kellogg Brown and Root.

The company was ordered to pay $6.25 million to each of the soldiers in punitive damages and $850,000 in noneconomic damages.

The suit was the first concerning soldiers' exposure to a toxin at a water plant in southern Iraq that they were assigned to guard. The soldiers said they suffer from respiratory ailments after their exposure to sodium dichromate, and they fear that a carcinogen the toxin contains — hexavalent chromium — could cause cancer later in life.