Articles Posted in Military Law

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Narjess Ghane, the mother of a deceased member of the Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land Force (SEAL) Team Five, brought a wrongful death action against a private military contractor. Along with other members of SEAL Team Five, SO2 Sharpoor Alexander (Alex) Ghane Jr. was engaged in a live-fire, close-quarters combat training exercise at Mid-South Institute of Self Defense when a bullet allegedly penetrated a ballistic wall, striking SO2 Ghane above his protective vest and killing him. Mid-South successfully moved for summary judgment on the ground that Mrs. Ghane’s claim would require the trial court to question military policy and operational decisions, thus raising a nonjusticiable political question. The defendants had previously unsuccessfully moved for summary judgment on the ground that SO2 Ghane had signed a valid waiver of liability. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment pertaining to the political question doctrine, but affirmed the trial court’s previous denial of summary judgment regarding to the liability waiver. The Court determined defendants failed to demonstrate that adjudication of this claim would require reexamination of matters inextricable from military policy and operational decisions. View "Ghane v. Mid-South Institute of Self Defense Shooting, Inc." on Justia Law

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George Neville filed a petition for modification of a final judgment of divorce seeking to have his ex-wife, Tina Blitz, pay their daughter's college expenses. The chancellor ordered the parties to divide the college expenses equally, after scholarships and a monthly housing stipend from the Post-9/11 GI Bill were deducted. George, who had assigned his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to his daughter, appealed arguing the chancellor erred by dividing the monthly housing stipend between Tina and himself. The chancellor found that George should take credit for the payment of the daughter's tuition, fees, and books from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but not the monthly housing stipend. He ordered that the housing stipend be taken off the top , along with the daughter's scholarships, before the remaining expenses were divided between George and Tina. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the chancellor's allocation of the monthly housing stipend was a violation of 38 U.S.C. 3319(f)(3) because it constituted division of the benefit between parties in a civil proceeding. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the case back to the chancellor to modify the order to give George credit for all benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. View "Neville v. Blitz" on Justia Law

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James Mallard and Tonya Mallard (now Tonya Mallard Burkart) were divorced on in 2001. Incorporated into the Final Judgment of Divorce was the Child Custody and Support and Property Settlement Agreement executed by the parties. A significant portion of the financial settlement that Burkart received in the property settlement agreement consisted of forty percent of Mallard's "disposable military retirement pay" for ten years. Following the divorce, Mallard elected to adopt a sixty-percent disability rating as part of his retirement pay. Mallard did not provide any of these disability benefits to Burkart. When Mallard filed a Petition for Modification of Judgment of Divorce in chancery court pursuant to child-support and custody matters, Burkart filed a counterpetition for contempt, asserting that Mallard had structured his retirement in such a way as to defeat her forty-percent interest in the total retirement pay. The chancellor determined that Burkart was entitled to forty percent of the disability benefits, but he declined to find Mallard in contempt. Mallard appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that since federal law preempts state law, state courts are precluded from allocating military disability benefits to a nonmilitary spouse; therefore, the Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Mallard v. Burkart" on Justia Law