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Federal Judge Denies Government’s Attempt to Escape Suit

The Ammons team, along with other distinguished law firms, filed suit against the U.S. government in the wake of the November 5, 2017 mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The shooter entered the church and opened fire, killing 26 people and wounding 22 more. Ammons filed claims on behalf of multiple victims, including members of the Holcombe family, which lost 9 loved ones spanning four generations.

The Ammons Law Firm is seeking recovery for the victims against the United States Government under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The lawsuit asserts that the shooter should not have been able to purchase the firearms he used in the shooting and that the government failed to collect, handle, and report required information about the shooter that allowed him to do so. After the Sutherland Springs church shooting, the Air Force admitted that it did not enter the gunman’s criminal history into the FBI’s background check system.

On January 6, 2021, Judge Xavier Rodriguez denied the U.S. Air Force’s motion for summary judgment. Attorneys Jamal Alsaffar, April Strahan, and Daniel Barks lead the efforts of a team of eminent lawyers seeking justice for the victims and families. Alsaffar said, “had the government fixed their 30-year failure to report dangerous felons, this massacre would not have happened.” The Air Force failed to report the shooter’s conviction for domestic abuse to an FBI background check system, which allowed the shooter to purchase firearms he should have been barred from owning. This case illustrates how reporting deficiencies have serious consequences, that the lapses in reporting data to the FBI enabled the shooter to purchase a firearm notwithstanding his convictions, and that the military failed to take known deficiencies in their reporting efforts seriously enough to prevent this tragedy.

The Court found, in undertaking to establish and operate a complex national background check system, the Government assumed the duty to operate the system with due care and that the Government breached that duty. Jamal Alsaffar, counsel for several of the plaintiffs, said the Court recognized that “the victim’s claims were not only valid but that the government breached their duty as a matter of law,” and that its Order means that “the government’s final attempt to avoid responsibility for its laundry list of negligent acts failed.”

The lead case is Holcombe et al. v. U.S., case number 5:18-cv-00555, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The victims and their families are variously represented by Jamal Alsaffar and Tom Jacob of Whitehurst Harkness Brees Cheng Alsaffar Higginbotham & Jacob PLLC, April Strahan and Robert Ammons of The Ammons Law Firm, Justin Demerath of O’Hanlon Demerath & Castillo, Daniel Barks of Speiser Krause PC, Daniel Sciano of Tinsman & Sciano, Mark Collmer of Collmer Law Firm, Dennis Peery and R. Craig Bettis of Tyler & Peery, Tim Maloney and Paul Campolo of Maloney & Campolo LLP, George LeGrand and Stanley Bernstein of LeGrand & Bernstein, Joseph Schreiber and Erik Knockaert of Schreiber Knockaert PLLC, Jason Webster of The Webster Law Firm, Brett Reynolds of Brett Reynolds & Associates PC, Marion Reilly of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales LLP, Hugh Plummer of the Law Office of Thomas J. Henry, Kelly W. Kelly of Anderson & Associates Law Firm, and Craig W. Carlson and Phillip J. Koelsch of The Carlson Law Firm, P.C.

The wrongful death of a loved one can be difficult to move past, particularly when knowing their death could have been avoided had others acted responsibly. Pursuing a wrongful death claim can help a family move forward by finding peace and holding negligent parties accountable for their actions.

Contact The Ammons Law Firm today for a free consultation at (281) 801-5617 or (866) 523-1606 or through our website www.ammonslaw.com.

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