Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security
is the lawsuit for wrongful death
filed by the families of the four contractors for Blackwater Security
who were slain in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush
. The families of the four slain contractors, led by Scott Helvenston
's mother Katy Helvenston-Wettengel and Donna Zovko, Jerry Zovko's mother, filed suit against Blackwater with lawyer Daniel Callahan
on January 5
, 2005. Blackwater countersued for $10 million in December 2006, claiming breach of the contract provisions which forbid any suit against the company. Both suits are outstanding.
Lead counsel for the families is Daniel Callahan; lead counsel for Blackwater is Greenberg Traurig.
The Blackwater contract with Regency Hotel and Hospital Company
and Eurest Support Services
called for at least three men per vehicle on security missions "with a minimum of two armored vehicles to support ESS movements." In addition the contract called for a minimum of three-man teams in two vehicles (for a total of six men), with a heavily armed rear gunner, and time before any mission to review the route and conduct a risk assessment and pre-trip inspection. Blackwater signed a revised contract with Regency on March 12
, 2004 that removed the word "armored".
The suit alleges that Blackwater trainer Justin "Shrek" McQuown resented Helvenston and deliberately reassigned Helvenston to the team that was ambushed. The suit further alleges that McQuown intervened and ordered only a four-man team be sent, although six were available, the other two remaining to perform clerical duties.
The suit alleges that Blackwater repeatedly made decisions that made the deaths of the contractors more likely in order to save money. These alleged decisions include not buying armored vehicles to save $1.5 million and removing the employee, John Potter, who complained about that action; and violating the contract by not sending out a six-man team with two armored vehicles
In December 2006, the families' attorney was sued for $10 million by Blackwater, who argues that the families had breached the security guards' contracts by suing the company for wrongful death.