The case of a Texas woman who alleges she was gang-raped by co-workers while working for a military contractor in Iraq will go to court instead of arbitration, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
A divided three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Jamie Leigh Jones’ federal lawsuit against Halliburton Co., former subsidiary KBR and several affiliates can be tried in open court.
The companies contended Jones signed an agreement that required claims against the companies to be resolved privately through arbitration.
Jones worked as a clerical worker for KBR at a Halliburton office in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and alleges she was drugged and raped by several Halliburton workers in her company barracks bedroom. She also claims she was placed under armed guard and held in a “prison-like container” for hours after reporting the alleged attack.
KBR and Halliburton, which split in 2007, have disputed Jones’ account of how the companies responded to her allegations.
A lower court found Jones allegations of assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and supervision of employees and false imprisonment did not fall within the scope of the arbitration clause of the contract she signed. Two of the judges from the federal appeals court agreed, with one dissenting.
Halliburton and KBR are headquartered in Houston.
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