A Canadian man who was held at Guantanamo Bay and pleaded guilty to committing war crimes when he was just 15 is being sued by an American soldier blinded in Afghanistan and the widow of another soldier killed there, as explained here. The plaintiffs have filed a wrongful death and injury lawsuit to the tune of $44.7 million. The case is definitely unique and slightly bizarre to personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City where the suit was filed in a U.S. federal court.
There are a number of factors involved in the case that complicate the likelihood that plaintiffs Layne Morris of Utah and Tabitha Speer of North Carolina will be awarded any amount of damages in their suit. The first of which being whether defendant Omar Khadr can be held accountable for the death of Speer’s husband—an American soldier killed in the battle—and the loss of Morris’ sight as a result of shrapnel projected from a grenade Khadr admitted to throwing. And while the plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City would point to Khadr’s signed plea deal as evidence of his war crime, others analyzing the case aren’t so sure.
Khadr was captured after the battle in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay prison as a terrorist. His lawyers and human rights groups “contended he was groomed to be a ‘child soldier’” by a radical father who was an associate of Osama bin Laden. Khadr spent 10 years at Guantanamo Bay before being transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence in 2012. The transfer was enacted after Khadr admitted to committing the “war crime” of throwing the grenade in the battle. Khadr, alongside advocates and attorneys, has since filed a $20 million lawsuit of his own for wrongful imprisonment.
Personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City like Cory Hundley admit to being baffled by how Khadr’s lawsuit will affect the case filed by Morris and Speer. Khadr’s Canadian attorney who represented him in the military trials said “the facts of the plea deal are false and Khadr signed it so he could return to Canada.” Additionally, the fact that Speer’s husband died on the battlefield doesn’t amount to a war crime. Furthermore, in his sentencing hearing, Khadr was prohibited from calling witnesses who could support defense claims that he was a child soldier forced into fighting.
Convoluted at best, lacking evidence and full of contradictions at worse, the Morris and Speer case may not hold water in a Utah courtroom, personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City like Hundley speculate. But Speer and Morris are convinced that they’re “doing the right thing and the principles are right” in their wrongful death and injury suit. But one has to wonder whether the case was filed more out of the emotional principle of fear, hurt and vengeance. Because while “Morris and Speer are concerned that Khadr might get his hands on $20 million” from the wrongful imprisonment suit, if Khadr is found to have been wrongfully imprisoned, it would undermine the claims made in the Utah lawsuit.