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Judge Upholds Suit Over Marine's Missing Heart

Image: U.S. Marine Brian LaLoup who died in 2012 while stationed in Greece in this undated photo.
U.S. Marine Brian LaLoup who died in 2012 while stationed in Greece in this undated photo. LaLoup's parents, Coatesville Pa. residents said when his body arrived home in Pennsylvania his heart was missing, and they’ve sued the Department of Defense. On Dec. 10, 2013, his mother, Beverly LaLoup, said a heart was later sent to them, but it wasn't her son's.Family photo via AP

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The family of a Marine whose body came back from Greece without his heart can pursue negligence claims against the United States, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled. However, the judge found that Greek officials and the Athens hospital where the autopsy was performed are immune from the Pennsylvania family's lawsuit.

The dispute involves the August 2012 suicide of Marine Sgt. Brian LaLoup, who shot himself after a party at the U.S. embassy in Athens, where he was stationed. His heart went missing after an autopsy at an Athens hospital. His parents learned that from U.S. military officials only after his funeral — and they still don't know where it is.

His clients, Craig and Beverly LaLoup of Coatesville, near Philadelphia, can now investigate the handling of their son's body through legal discovery.

The parents also hope to learn more about their son's death. They believe their son told a colleague that he was suicidal over a breakup that night, but he was nonetheless allowed to keep drinking and gain access to a weapons closet. They are pursuing emotional distress claims because the U.S. military is generally immune from wrongful-death lawsuits, their lawyer said.

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- The Associated Press

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