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Kristen Daum, Published December 15 2009

ND soldiers’ lawsuit transferred to Maryland

FARGO - A federal lawsuit by three North Dakota soldiers against government military contractors has been transferred to U.S. District Court in Maryland, according to court documents filed today in Fargo.

Last month, Patrick Cassidy of Fargo, William B. Dutton of Bismarck and Christopher M. Kozel of Minot joined hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans nationwide to file suit against Texas-based Halliburton Co. and KBR Inc., and other companies.

The lawsuits allege the military contractors disposed of vast quantities of waste on U.S. bases and camps in Iraq and Afghanistan by using open-air burn pits with no safety controls, which created hazardous fumes that jeopardized the health of about 100,000 people since 2003.

Cassidy, Dutton and Kozel reportedly suffered from medical problems stemming from their exposure to the burn pits, including memory loss, migraines, skin rashes, open sores, pneumonia and lymphoma.

The soldiers’ lawsuit joins dozens of others nationwide – including one filed in Minnesota in May – that have been merged for pretrial proceedings under U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus in Greenbelt, Md.