News

FREEHILL OBTAINS DEFENSE VERDICT IN DEFENSE BASE ACT OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND TOXIC EXPOSURE

On February 13, 2020, Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Angela Donaldson issued a complete defense verdict in a DBA case which was tried by Freehill partner John Karpousis with assistance from associate Matthew Pallay in Dallas, Texas. In Americo Gatewood v. Fluor Federal Global Projects Inc., the claimant, who was employed in Afghanistan  by a military contractor, claimed that he had psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) resulting from rocket attacks which occurred while he was employed in a war zone. He also alleged that exposure to fuels and other toxic irritants  resulted in a dermatological condition. Defending the claimant’s employer we argued that the claimant did not have PTSD or any psychological condition related to his employment. We also argued that the claimant’s dermatological condition did not arise from his employment in Afghanistan. Although the judge found that the claimant met the Section 20(a) presumption that a harm occurred and that working conditions existed that could have caused or contributed to the harm, the judge  found that on behalf of the employer, we had presented substantial evidence to rebut the presumption. Without the presumption, the evidence in the case was weighed as a whole, and the judge determined that on a preponderance of the evidence the claimant had not submitted sufficient evidence that either PTSD or any psychological or dermatological condition arose from his employment in Afghanistan.

The case was defended by Freehill partner John Karpousis and associate Matthew Pallay. This decision marks Mr. Karpousis’ third complete defense verdict in a row under the Defense Base Act over the last two years.  To read Judge Donaldson’s 54 page decision, click HERE.