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Purcell v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
656 F.3d 463 (2011)


Facts

Christopher Lee Purcell notified Navy and Department of Defense (DOD) personnel (collectively the defendants) that he planned to commit suicide. The defendants arrived at Purcell’s barracks at the Brunswick Naval Air Station and briefly questioned him. The defendants did not find a gun, and later allowed Purcell to go to the bathroom accompanied by a friend. Upon entering the bathroom Purcell pulled a gun from his waistband and shot himself in the chest. Purcell’s father, Michael (plaintiff), brought a wrongful death suit against the defendants in federal district court under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Michael’s complaint alleged that the defendants failed to calm Purcell, failed to search him in accordance with Navy regulations, and failed to maintain proper custody of him. The district court dismissed Michael’s suit as being barred by the Feres doctrine. Michael appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Flaum, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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