The father of a solider killed in Iraq won a $10.9 million personal injury verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist church in Kansas. The church pickets at military funerals because it believes that the Iraqi War is God’s way of punishing the US for its acceptance of homosexuals.
The Maryland lawsuit is the first lawsuit to be filed by surviving family members of a deceased solider because protestors picketed a funeral. Albert Snyder sued for unspecified damages because church members demonstrated at his son, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder’s funeral in March 2006. Albert Snyder says the protest ruined his experience and memory of the funeral and intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony for friends and family.
The Maryland jury awarded Albert Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It awarded Snyder $2 million for emotional distress and $6 million for punitive damages because of invasion of privacy. The value of the compensatory damages is greater than the defendants’ net worth.
The defendants in the personal injury case, Reverend Fred Phelps and his daughters Rebecca Phelps-Davis and Shirley Phelps-Roper were found liable for intent to inflict emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
Last month, a federal judge in Maryland had cleared the defamation charge against the defendants. The church had said that Lance Corporal Snyder’s parents had taught him adultery and idolatry because they were divorced. The judge dismissed the defamation charge on the basis that adultery isn’t defamatory.
If you have been injured in any manner—whether physically, emotionally, or mentally—because of the negligent actions of another party or parties, you should speak with a personal injury attorney right away.
You could very well be entitled to compensatory damages and even punitive damage (punishing the defendant) as compensation for the harm, injury, or loss that you have suffered.
Church ordered to pay $10.9 million for funeral protest, CNN.com, October 31, 2007
Defamation claim dismissed against funeral-protesting church, Eyewitness News, October 16, 2007
Related Web Resources:
Westboro Baptist Church military funeral protests ruling reinforces rule of law, Jurist.com, October 18, 2007
In Washington D.C. and Maryland, the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen would like to offer you a free consultation to discuss your case. If we agree to take your case, you will only pay for our services if we negotiate a settlement or win your lawsuit for you. Contact Lebowitz & Mzhen today.