RALEIGH, N.C.–LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – The families of four American security contractors are reaching out to the American public for help to protect themselves against the company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. Blackwater has now counter-sued the dead men’s estates for $10 million. The families are simply without the financial wherewithal to defend against Blackwater’s suit and are in jeopardy of losing their fight to discover the truth about the deaths of their loved ones, explained their attorneys, Callahan & Blaine, who have established a legal defense fund for the families.
On March 31, 2004, the Blackwater contractors were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. Following these gruesome deaths, the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why their loved ones died. Blackwater refused to give the grieving families any information, and stated that they would need to sue Blackwater to get it, said Donna Zovko, mother of slain Blackwater contractor Jerry Zovko. In January 2005, the families filed suit against Blackwater.
Blackwater files Counter-suit and Moves Case out of Court
In an unusual change of tactics, Blackwater filed a counter-suit, seeking not only $10 million dollars, but also looking to silence the families and keep them out of court, explained Daniel Callahan, the families’ lawyer. According to legal documents, Blackwater claims that the mere fact that the families sued the company for wrongful death is a breach of the decedents’ contracts.
Blackwater has demanded that its claim and the families’ existing lawsuit be handled in a private arbitration. “By suing the families in arbitration, Blackwater has attempted to move the examination of its wrongful conduct outside of the eye of the public and away from a jury,” said Callahan.
Blackwater Assembles Legal Team
Blackwater initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal. Cofer Black, who was the Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorist Center, was also added as a Blackwater Vice-Chairman.
“Blackwater has spent millions of dollars and hired at least five different law firms to fight the families, rather than meeting and addressing the safety and well being of the mothers, wives, and children left behind,” said Callahan.
Surviving Families Reach Out for Help
Without help, Blackwater will succeed in avoiding scrutiny for its conduct, escaping accountability for its actions, and silencing the families of the four Americans killed in Fallujah, claims Callahan. A legal defense fund has been established by which the public is able to donate money to assist the families with litigation costs and expenses.
Donations may be made securely online through PayPal by going to www.blackwatervictims.com. Donations can also be sent to the families’ trust account, payable to “C&B ITF Blackwater Victims Defense Fund,” c/o Callahan & Blaine, 3 Hutton Centre Drive, Ninth Floor, Santa Ana, California 92707.
All donations will be kept confidential and anonymous.
For more information, please visit www.blackwatervictims.com or contact counsel for the families, Daniel J. Callahan at 714-241-4444 or [email protected]