The unexpected loss of a loved one can wreak emotional and financial havoc on surviving family members. When that loss of life is because of another’s negligence, it is sometimes necessary to hold the responsible party financially accountable. Several Texas families are pursuing suits against the U.S. Air Force after they lost family members or suffered catastrophic injuries in the Sunderland Springs First Baptist Church mass shootings last November.

After suffering multiple gunshot wounds during the Nov. 5 attack, one woman is still bouncing between the hospital and rehab. She recently filed a lawsuit against the Air Force, making hers the fourth from victims of the shootings. Another family — which lost nine members — sued only weeks afterward, and another family filed suit the very next day.

These claims all accuse the Air Force of failing to alert the FBI about important information regarding the shooter. The 26-year-old shooter was convicted of domestic violence, court-martialed, spent 12 months in confinement and was then dishonorably discharged from the military. It was the Air Force’s responsibility to pass on this information to the FBI. Doing so would have added him to a national database that would have prevented him from legally obtaining a firearm. The victims’ suits all allege that this never happened.

While financial compensation is an important component for victims pursuing claims for catastrophic injuries, it is not always the central focus. At least one Texas victim cited the desire to create a safer community by holding the Air Force and Department of Defense responsible for their negligence. When pursued successfully to completion, these types of claims can achieve both of these goals.

Source: watertowndailytimes.com, “Fourth family files claim against Air Force after mass shooting at Texas church“, Jan. 3, 2018