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Can a Veteran sue his retired Commanding Officer concerning what occurred during War?

Miami, FL |

I am being sued by a former soldier concerning what took place, and what was said during war time.. Since it concerns what took place when both of us were in active duty, can he sue me? This does not have anything to do with malpractice or negligence.

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I hate to make redundant statements, but it depends. The Soldier can certainly sue you for non service related acts, such as defamation, libel or battery. The Soldier cannot sue the military for what you allegedly did. As has been said, generally the "Feres Doctine" prohibits that sort of thing, though there are some narrow exceptions.

Another problem the Soldier will have is finding jurisdiction. If by "war time" you mean that you and the Soldier were in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Soldier will have more obstacles. Only the UCMJ has non territorial grasp, meaning a person subject to the code may be prosecuted no matter where the action occurred. If you have a violation of say Florida law, the act has to have taken place in Florida. So, if you had committed a tort action against the Soldier in Iraq, is the Soldier going to sue you in Iraq, in Iraqi courts under Iraqi laws? The Soldier is not going to be successful suing you in Florida courts.

The Soldier would probably have a better chance working a complaint against you through the military administratively. I'm not going to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. There are exceptions, and I certainly don't have all of the facts. With what you have included, it sounds pretty far fetched.

I hope that helps. Good luck.


Generally no, but more information is needed to comprehensively answer this question. Were you acting in your official capacity? Was this off duty or on duty? What court is he/she suing you in?

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Yes, I was acting in my official capacity and we were on duty. He is suing me in Civil Court. He is saying that I was not his CO and that he was the CO.

Kelvin P. Green

Kelvin P. Green


So what would be the purpose of that kind of lawsuit. I see no cause of action here and wouldn't assumption of command orders show who it was? I have been in the military 34 years... I guess there is a first tine fir everything

William Emil Cassara

William Emil Cassara


Your first step should be to contact DA. The U.S. Army Legal Services Agency is in charge of defending soldiers who are sued in their official capacity, with help from the Department of Justice. So assuming he is suing you about a purely military matter, they will defend you.


My first thought is no... Given the Feres doctrine I suggest contacting a military attorney like mr Kornacki, William Cassara, or Phillip Cave all here on Avvo.

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Yes you can be sued.

Anyone can file a suit against anyone else.

Whether the suit is based in causes of action that can be sustained or whether there are any damages that can be recovered there is no way to say--you provided no facts or circumstances on which to base an analysis,

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Can YOU as an individual be sued? In a nutshell, probably not, but maybe. The Services are protected from lawsuits under a case Feres v. US, also referred to as the "Feres Doctrine." See here for two good summaries:
This case protects the US and Servicemembers from lawsuits for activities in the military incident to service (a poorly packed parachute in airborne operations, an honest mistake of friendly fire, a botched medical surgery, etc.). HOWEVER, it probably won't protect someone for intentional criminal acts, or gross negligence (let's say that in the above examples the rigger/11B/surgeon was high on cocaine). The logistical issues would be 1) jurisdiction - what court would hear the case and 2) proof/evidence.
I certainly cannot make any blanket statements... and everyone can try to sue someone. But if you are eligible for protection, and If you are sued and there are protections, then the Court would likely dismiss or grant you a summary judgment or directed verdict. However, if you were intentionally in the wrong or grossly negligent, then you have cause to be worried. Good luck. If you get sued, hire a lawyer immediately, and don't post anything on any website sharing any details.
*This is general advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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