Twenty-two Marines were treated for exposure to a potentially dangerous fire-retardant gas after a system designed to extinguish fires in assault vehicles accidentally went off during a training exercise, according to recent reports. No serious injuries were reported. Officials are investigating the equipment malfunction at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, according to a base spokesperson. The Marines were exposed to halon. All were taken to the base hospital where three were kept overnight for observation.
Halon is a relatively non-toxic gas that leaves no residue and is commonly used in fire extinguisher systems. However, it can cause breathing difficulties, particularly when inhaled at high concentrations in an enclosed area. The use of halon is still allowed although the U.S. banned production in the 1990s due to depletion of ozone associated with the gas.
Service people sign on for combat, so some believe that this precludes them from suing for damages if they are injured. The truth is more complicated than that.
For many years, service people were precluded from suing the government for injuries sustained in time of war. In the 1950s, the United States Supreme Court also ruled that active duty military personnel or their survivors cannot sue the government even when not involved in active combat. In the case that gave its name to the Feres Doctrine, a widow attempted to sue for her husband’s death in a barracks fire but was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the Feres Doctrine has been challenged, it has not yet successfully been overturned.
However, the Feres Doctrine only prevents service people from suing the government. Service men and women are free to sue private parties if they are injured, just as any other citizen can do. It is possible that a service member may have a suit against an individual or private contractor even if barred from suing the military itself.
If you have been injured in an accident, whether you are an active duty service member or a civilian, it is important to seek support and advice from a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Dan Gilleon in San Diego is ready to help. Contact him today for advice on recovering payments for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other losses associated with your accident.