The suit meets the criteria to fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to seek damages in certain cases if they can prove the U.S. Government was negligent, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Under most circumstances the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects the government from lawsuits, but in this case U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez held that failure of the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense to log shooter Devin Kelley's history of mental health problems and violent behavior in an FBI database made them potentially liable.
The failure of the U.S. Air Force to report a domestic violence conviction to civilian authorities "had drastic consequences" that led to the shooting deaths of 26 people and the wounding of 22 others at a Texas church in 2017, and it "should not have occurred," according to a new report released Friday from the Pentagon Inspector General.
Two additional families who lost loved ones in the Sutherland Springs massacre last year are suing the U.S. Air Force for negligence, doubling the number of legal challenges the government is facing over the mass shooting.
Amid the ongoing national conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault, lawmakers are pushing the Department of Defense to better define domestic violence as a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to both punish abuse within the ranks and prevent future tragedies like the one that struck the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November 2017.