According to reports, in what some say could be the first step toward a massive federal lawsuit, 83 people who consist of victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage and the family members of those killed in the attack have filed administrative claims against the U.S. government alleging negligence and seeking around $750 million in damages. Sources say the claimants include family members of 8 of the 13 people killed during the rampage.
The claims assert that federal agencies succumbed to “political correctness” by ignoring warning signs of the shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan. Maj. Hasan opened fire inside Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center, killing 12 soldiers and one civilian and wounding more than 30 people.
Reportedly, the claims cite which concluded that Hasan was a “ticking time bomb” and that federal agencies failed to take action against Hasan despite mounting evidence that the psychiatrist, born in Virginia to Palestinian parents, was embracing radical Islam.
Sources say the claims were filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act and were made against the FBI and the departments of the Army, Defense and Justice. Reportedly, they were filed last week before the two-year anniversary of the shootings, as the two-year window on filing was set to close. Legal sources explain that tort claims are the prerequisite to a lawsuit against the federal government, and federal agencies have six months to respond to the claims before a lawsuit can be initiated.
According to reports, the claimants include nine soldiers and one civilian who were injured in the shooting, 19 family members of those injured victims and 54 family members of eight people killed in the attack.
However, according to legal experts, the claims and a potential federal lawsuit could complicate matters for military prosecutors seeking the death penalty against Hasan in a court-martial scheduled for March.
According to Retired Army Lt. Col Geoffrey Corn, a professor at the South Texas College of Law, said defense lawyers would probably seize on the fact that a number of potential witnesses believe the federal government, and particularly Hasan’s chain of command, share some liability in the shooting. “It’s a classic military defense; you blame the chain of command,” Corn said. “All this is doing is making the issue more visible, more palpable.”