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Pennsylvania family takes action after son's body comes home

Serving in the United States military is trying on everyone involved; the officer as well as his family members and other loved ones. People typically fear the worse; losing your life in battle. This fear can sadly become a reality during times of war and other battles. However, it may also be the result of a wrongful death situation, perhaps something a little less expected.

Pennsylvania parents are grappling with what to do in an apparent wrongful death situation after the military sent them the body of their 21-year-old son. Their son was a marine who was stationed in Greece. He had apparently told a fellow colleague that he was suicidal following a breakup.

His parents believe that the government is responsible for what happened next. One of the young marine's supervisors apparently knew about his breakup situation and his suicidal thoughts. Instead of seeking help for his subordinate, the supervisor took him out drinking. And later in the evening, the 21-year-old was provided access to a storage area with weapons. He shot himself that night.

Their son's body has finally made its way home; but the homecoming raises more questions than answers. The young marine's heart was not in his body, and now the parents are looking for answers and recourse. As part of their efforts, they decided to sue the U.S. government.

Although plaintiffs may attempt to file a wrongful death action against the U.S. government, it is usually immune from such accusations. In addition to asserting such claims, plaintiffs should be prepared to include other allegations in their complaint to ensure that it survives and defense of immunity.

One possible other claim is for emotional distress. Plaintiffs who suffer because of the loss of a loved one can focus in on their own grief to identify injuries and damages. This shifts the spotlight from the decedent and his wrongful death to continuing injuries; injuries that the government may be responsible for compensating.

Making out a claim for emotional distress can sometimes be challenging, however. It may require showing physical manifestation of the emotions. If the situation or conduct causing the distress is outrageous, this outrageousness can lessen the burden.

In this case, the marine's parents appreciate the limitations created by the immunity defense. As a result, to cover for the alleged wrongful death of their son, they are seeking damages for their own emotional distress. Losing a loved one can be a highly emotional time. Those unsure of their options should seek advice so they can take appropriate steps and understand if they have a cause of action.

Source: Fox News, "Lawsuit claims Marine's body sent home to Pennsylvania without heart," Dec. 11, 2013

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