He wanted to make sure his JROTC uniform looked perfect. He caused $690,000 in damage instead

news

Marine Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets badge worn on the left shoulder of their uniform

(U.S. Marine Corps/Pfc. Crystal Druery)

It was getting late, but the Landstown High School student wanted to make sure his uniform looked perfect.

The next morning, senior Cade Anderson would participate in a JROTC drill competition in Prince William county. As his roommate slept, he decided to hang his jacket on a sprinkler head in his hotel room and properly affix all of his ribbons and medals, an attorney said.

When he went to take it back down, the sprinkler activated — resulting in more than $690,000 in damage.

"It's a parent's worst nightmare," attorney Rick Matthews said in an interview.


The hotel's insurance company is suing Anderson and the Virginia Beach school system, claiming negligence on both of their parts. The lawsuit, which seeks $692,526.55 in damages, plus interest and court costs — also claims the school system breached its contract.

Matthews, who represents the school system, argues his client shouldn't have to pay. He is arguing sovereign immunity.

That would still leave Anderson on the hook.

The company behind his father's homeowner's insurance policy is currently paying for his defense, but it wants out of the case. Universal North American Insurance Co. asked a federal judge last week to rule it doesn't have to defend or indemnify Anderson for what happened.

A message left for Anderson at his father's Virginia Beach home was not returned.

The suit stems from a 10:47 p.m. incident Oct. 20, 2017, at a Holiday Inn in Dumfries.

Anderson, who is now attending Old Dominion University, and other members of his school's JROTC program had spent the day touring Marine Corps Base Quantico, Mathews said. A drill competition was scheduled for the next morning at Potomac High School in Dumfries.

While staying in his fourth-floor hotel room, Anderson decided to hang his uniform jacket on a sprinkler head that was located on one of the room's walls.

Matthews said there were no signs to notify guests not to hang clothing from the sprinkler head and that Anderson didn't know it was dangerous.

"He felt terrible," the attorney said.

Assistant Fire Chief Matt Smolsky of the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department said a total of 10 rooms were damaged by the flooding, as well as the hotel's kitchen and dining area. The rest of the building remained open, though.

A news release posted last month on the department's website referenced the hazards posed by hangers and sprinkler heads.

"Although sprinkler heads operate independently and activate when exposed to fire, damage from the discharge of one sprinkler head can be significant," the release said, explaining one can release 15 to 40 gallons of water per minute. "The water discharged from a sprinkler activation can cause damage throughout a building."

Smolsky said he did not know how long it took for officials to shut off the hotel's sprinklers, but said firefighters were on the scene within six minutes. Matthews said it took about 45 minutes to turn off the water.

———

©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(New Line Cinema)

The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.

Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.

This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."

Read More Show Less

The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.

"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."

Read More Show Less

On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.

A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.

Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.

"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.

Read More Show Less
(Paramount Pictures via YouTube)

The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.

But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?

Read More Show Less