By Alex Major
In March 2010, a federal district court in Texas ruled that the deaths and injuries sustained by a group of civilian convoy drivers in Iraq during insurgent attacks were not “accidents” caused by conditions of their employment and were, therefore, outside the scope of the protections afforded to contractors by the Defense Base Act (“DBA”). 42 U.S.C. § 1651, et seq. Fisher v. Halliburton, 703 F. Supp. 2d. 639 (S.D. Tex. 2010). We previously described and criticized the district court decision in this blog, noting that it was now unclear how, exactly, the DBA would fare in future litigation. But on January 12, 2012, the Fifth Circuit restored clarity— and common sense—to the application of the DBA by recognizing that the facts in Fisher presented “the quintessential case of a compensable injury arising from a third party’s assault”. Holding the DBA to be the exclusive remedy for damages, the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. Fisher v. Halliburton, 2012 WL 90136 (5th Cir. 2012).