Mississippi court decides jury will hear Navy SEAL wrongful death lawsuit
Case highlights issues of jurisdiction when military activities are involved
The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that a wrongful death lawsuit involving a Navy SEAL will be heard by a jury, according to WDEF News 12. The decision upheld an earlier decision by the court that had overturned a DeSoto County judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit. The lower court had argued that, due to the potential sensitivity of military operations being called into question, the court did not have the jurisdiction to consider the case.
Killed during training accident
The deceased person was killed during a training accident at a Mississippi facility in 2008. Despite wearing a bulletproof vest, a bullet passed through a barrier and then through a gap in the person’s vest. The man was shot in the chest in what was described as a close-quarters combat training exercise.
The private facility, which is located near Walls in northwest Mississippi, is not owned by the Navy, but it has been used by numerous law enforcement and military agencies over the years.
Lower court dismisses lawsuit
The deceased man’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the training facility, claiming the wall behind which her son was crouched was not bulletproof as it was supposed to be. The wall was built by the facility for the training exercise, according to Gulf Live.
A DeSoto County judge originally dismissed the lawsuit because it was argued that it would call into question military policy and operations, thus involving an area of political jurisdiction that a trial court could not legally consider.
The deceased man’s mother appealed that ruling and in January the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision. The plaintiff argued that the wall was independently designed and constructed by the training facility and did not pertain to military policy. The Navy was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The facility argued that the Navy was at least partially responsible for the accident and should be included in the lawsuit.
After that January decision, the training facility asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling. In May, the Supreme Court rejected the facility’s appeal and upheld its earlier decision. As a result, the case will be returned to DeSoto County where it will be heard by a trial jury.
Wrongful death cases
As the above case shows, a wrongful death or personal injury case can sometimes raise complicated legal questions. Furthermore, dealing with the pain and suffering caused by a wrongful death case can often lead the deceased’s loved ones to feel further confused and overwhelmed by the legal process.
Anybody who is seeking compensation and justice because of a wrongful death incident should consult with a personal injury lawyer. With an experienced lawyer on hand, clients will be able to receive expert legal opinion in a way that is sensitive to the client’s needs and expectations.