Clinton Brook & Peed Settles Wrongful-Death Lawsuit Against U.S. Army
In 2014, we filed a Federal Tort Claims Act lawsuit against the United States government, seeking to redress the wrongful deaths of 19-year-old Michael Roark and 17-year-old Tiffany York due to negligence by the U.S. Army. Last week, we finalized a settlement of the case on behalf of their parents. Our clients will receive a total of $4 million from the government.
The case involved a shocking set of facts: The Army allowed a terrorist militia to develop in its ranks at Fort Stewart, and even paid the ringleader $500,000 in death benefits after his wife died—even though he was suspected of killing her. He used the money to recruit other soldiers to his militia and to amass an arsenal; he later ordered the murders of former private Michael Roark (age 19) and his girlfriend Tiffany York (age 17). The Army had information about much of Aguigui’s criminal past, yet did nothing to stop him until it was too late.
After discovery, the case proceeded on dual paths. The Tiffany York-related claims were scheduled for trial in federal court in Seattle. The Michael Roark-related claims had been dismissed under the Feres doctrine, an oft-criticized, judge-made rule that prevents lawsuits to redress injuries to servicemembers. We had appealed the dismissal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and in our opening brief we argued that Feres does not bar lawsuits to redress injuries suffered by former service members after their service had concluded.
Both cases are now fully resolved. As explained by Michael Roark’s mother, Tracy Jahr, the settlement “is as close as we are going to get to an apology or admission of guilt for their failure to act on the information they knew.”
- Chris Ingalls, Army Pays $4 Million to Families for Murders Committed by WA Soldier, king5 (Jan. 26, 2018)
More coverage of the case
- Rick Anderson, Renegade Soldiers Killed a Teen Couple. The Army Could've Prevented It, Lawsuit Says, L.A. Times (Apr. 6, 2017)
- Nadya Labi, Rogue Element: How an Anti-Government Militia Grew on a U.S. Army Base, New Yorker (May 26, 2014)
- Caitlin Dickson, The Georgia Militia Murders, Daily Beast (Sept. 20, 2013)