Friday, September 30, 2011
We've blogged about the Jamie Leigh Jones case before (here, here and here, and probably other places as well). Jones alleged that she was drugged and gang raped by fellow employees and held in a storage container in Iraq when she was there as a military contractor with Halliburton (now KBR). When Jones sued KBR, KBR sought to compel arbitration pursuant to her employment contract. Her claims were tied up until the 5th Circuit held 2-1 that she could pursue her action in court.
Opponents of "mandatory arbitration" pointed the Jones case as an example of its injustice -- the fact that Jones had to fight so hard just to have her "day in court." (Indeed, Jones' story was featured in the recent documentary "Hot Coffee" that was aired on HBO - we blogged about it here). Her ordeal even prompted Senator Franken to make a more specific call for a ban on military contracts with companies that required employees to arbitrate claims of sexual assault and harassment.
Jones recently lost her case when a Texas jury returned a verdict in favor of KBR (here's one view of why she lost). Now, the latest: Jones has been ordered to pay KBR $145,000 in court fees. That's how our justice system encourages alleged rape victims to come forward?! Seriously, allegations of sexual misconduct are subject to a vast grey area, with attendant problems of proof. Now coming forward as a victim is accompanied by the risk that you'll have to pay court costs, even to one of the world's deepest pockets. (Apparently, KBR sought $2 million, but attorneys' fees were denied).
Jones' lawyer gave this touching statement to the WSJ Law Blog:
Jamie, you remain a hero in my eyes. I am humbled that you chose me to stand for you. I am sorry that we did not walk out of that courtroom with justice, but I am proud to have stood by your side fighting for it for five long years. I am sorry that you have to pay the costs of the defense in this litigation. I am sorry that we will not recover the costs of your prosecution, either. This is a loss that will forever haunt me, my friend. I am truly sorry.
[Meredith R. Miller]