Having a family member in the military die overseas is heartbreaking. When there are events around that death that bring up questions for the family, the heartbreak can be even worse. One Pennsylvania family lost a son to an apparent suicide while he was stationed overseas in Greece. While the government is immune from wrongful death lawsuits, the family is still suing for emotional damage caused by the fact that the Marine's body didn't contain a heart when it was given to the family.
The family claims that the Marine underwent an unauthorized autopsy on Aug. 18, 2012. The Marine's body was sent home for a funeral that included a burial with full military honors. Weeks after the funeral, the family was told that the body didn't contain a heart. Months later, the family received a heart that the Department of Defense and Greek authorities claim was the Marine's. DNA testing eventually proved that the heart didn't belong to the Marine.
The family is suing the Navy and the Department of Defense in federal court for a minimum of $75,000 for damages due to emotional distress caused by the missing heart. Despite the lawsuit, the family mostly wants answers about what happened to their son's heart and why they were eventually sent someone else's heart.
If you have lost a loved one to questionable circumstances, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit or a lawsuit to collect compensation for damages related to the death. Working with an experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can help you to determine if you have valid claims to compensation for damages.
Source: ABC 13, "Marine's body sent home without heart" No author given, Dec. 11, 2013