Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pennsylvania judge takes a second look at negligence death suit

In a Pennsylvania federal court of appeals the judge was asked to revisit the decision to dismiss a wrongful death suit from the parents of young man who died in Iraq in 2008. The parents had filed charges against a defense contractor accused of being responsible for the death of their son. The victim, a staff sergeant stationed at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Iraq, was staying in barracks at the compound, in structures that were known to have electrical problems. The young man was reportedly electrocuted by an underground water pump.

The United States District judge who heard the case last year found that there were many complex issues surrounding the claim. These included the alleged negligence of the electrical company, as well as whether to rule on political or military issues, thereby violating the constitutional separation of church and state. Three judges from the Third United States Circuit Court of Appeals created a lengthy, precedential opinion stating defense contractors are part of an independent constitutional entity and therefore do not fall within the parameters of government decision-making.

Spokespersons for the court indicated that the charges filed by the parents of the deceased do not legally warrant military evaluation. According to the district judge, another layer of complication involved a major legal point in the decision over which state had jurisdiction in the case. The electric company in question is based in Texas, while the victim and his family reside in Pennsylvania. The decision to dismiss the case or go forward could be contingent upon the resolution of this issue. For now, the decision is in the hands of the district judge.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a wrongful death or negligent act, it is a good idea to seek advice from wrongful death attorneys to be informed of your rights under the law.


Source: 
post-gazette.com, "Appeals court: Judge must revisit case over negligence in Iraq death of Pittsburgh-area parents' son" Rich Lord, Aug. 01, 2013

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