Update 7:09pm Eastern. Legal analysis from Allah. More details on the jury’s additional $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress, plus a round-up at STACLU.
I pointed you last week to the legal case of Albert Synder, who took the foul Phelps family to court over their reprehensible protests of fallen military heroes. Snyder claimed invasion of privacy and emotional harm from the radical haters’ demonstration at his son’s funeral. Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder died in Anbar province in a vehicle accident last year. The verdict is just in from the Baltimore Sun:
Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the father of a Westminster Marine who was killed in Iraq, today won his case in a Baltimore federal court against members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church who protested at his son’s funeral last year.
The jury of five women and four men awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages to be awarded has not yet been decided. The jury deliberated for about two hours yesterday and much of today.
Snyder was the first in the nation to attempt to hold members of Westboro Baptist Church legally liable for their shock protests at military funerals after the church protested the military’s inclusion of gays at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a 2003 Westminster High School graduate who died March 3, 2006, in a vehicle accident in Anbar province.
In June 2006, Snyder sued the tight-knit fundamentalist Christian church and three of its members individually. The father argued that Westboro’s demonstrations exacerbated his pain and suffering in March 2006 while he mourned the death of his only son.
Specifically, he charged that they violated his privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional harm and engaged in a conspiracy to carry out their activities. The jury decided in Snyder’s favor on every count.
The fight’s not over.
Matthew Snyder, of Finksburg, Maryland, died from a non combat-related vehicle accident in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Combat Service Support Group-1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, California. Died on March 3, 2006. Matthew was 20 years old.
Matthew graduated from Westminster High School in 2003. After graduation, he enlisted in the Marines on October 14, 2003, and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In August of 2004, Matthew was assigned to Combat Logistics Batallion-7, Twentynine Palms, Calif. as a generator mechanic.
“He was a hero and he was the love of my life.” – Albert Snyder, Matthew’s Father
The family of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, US Marine Corps, has begun this civil lawsuit* against Mr. Phelps and certain members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church to bring an end to the reign of terror and abuse that they inflicted upon the grieving families of US service members killed in defense of our nation. Using innocent children to deliver their twisted message of hatred and fear, the defendants in this suit have sought to attack the memory of our departed heroes, to strip their loved ones of their dignity, and to use abuse and intimidation as a tool for preventing surviving family members from reaching closure over their loss.
It is the sincere hope of Mr. Al Snyder, Matthew’s father, that this suit will spark similar legal actions against Mr. Phelps wherever he seeks to inflict harm upon the memory of our heroes and their families. If you feel strongly that such actions should be stopped, please consider a donation to help offset the legal expenses of bringing this suit.
*This is a private civil lawsuit that is separate from any actions being pursued by states or the federal government against Mr. Phelps. While those cases involve Government action and potential 1st Amendment issues, this case is distinct. This case simply alleges that one does not have the right to conspire to use lies in order to inflict intentional harm upon persons who are grieving the death of their children.