The family of a British servicemen has sued the US military for negligence in the first ever successful case by a foreign national.
The family of Lt Michael Whitley won $1.2m (£750,000) when the appeal court last week upheld an original ruling from 1996.
Whitley was one of 17 members of a British rugby team in a van driven by a US Army official. The driver fell asleep causing an accident which killed Whitley and injured 16 others.
Lawyers including Hilary Meredith, a partner from Donns Solicitors in Manchester, had to prove that the men were not on active duty when the accident happened in order to win damages. Military personnel cannot sue for injuries sustained in action.
American lawyer Sherrod Taylor, who worked alongside Meredith, says: “They were here to play rugby and they paid their own way. Now the court has accepted this we can bring actions for the other victims.”
Meredith adds: “We have opened the door for British personnel to recover damages for wrongful death or personal injury actions against the US.
“Even in cases where military personnel are injured while staying in faulty US government accommodation it could now be possible to sue.”