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Texas Supreme Court Dismisses Dog Bite Case Against Military Contractor

The separation of powers doctrine is central to our democracy. Unfortunately, however, the application of the doctrine can mean that some Texas personal injury cases cannot be resolved by the courts because they concern unreviewable decisions made by the executive and legislative branches.

In a recent case against a military contractor, a woman filed a lawsuit after she was allegedly bitten by a dog on a United States Army base in Afghanistan. She was working as an administrative clerk at the base, and one day the dog allegedly escaped from her kennel, ran toward her, jumped and bit the woman’s shoulder. The dog also bit her buttocks before it was pulled off of her.

The woman sued the company that provided dogs to the Armed Services, alleging that the company negligently trained and handled the dog and that the dog bit her as a result. The company had trained the dog in the U.S. before being sent to Afghanistan. The dog was stationed at the base to protect soldiers and others by sniffing out improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The company claimed that the Army was at fault because of its use of the dog and because of the way it housed the dog. The company also argued that the court could not consider the case due to the political question doctrine.

The Political Question Doctrine

The political question doctrines holds that the judiciary cannot decide matters that are in the realm of the executive and legislative branches of government. The idea is that only the courts can interpret the constitution and that they cannot decide how the executive branch should perform its duties. The United States Supreme Court has explained that it does not matter whether an issue is political, but rather whether an issue is committed to another branch of government.

The Court’s Decision

In this case, the Texas Supreme Court decided that the case would require a reexamination of a military decision. The United States Constitution gives the executive and legislative branches control over the military. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the decisions concerning the “composition, training, equipping, and control” of the military are always subject to the control of the legislative and executive branches. The company was blaming the Army’s design of the kennel for the incident, so the Army’s design decision would be at issue. Because the Army’s military decisions concerning equipping the military are unreviewable by courts because of the political question doctrine, the case could not be considered by courts and was therefore dismissed.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in any kind of personal injury accident, you should seek the assistance of a dedicated Texas personal injury law firm. The attorneys at Carabin Shaw aggressively represent individuals across Texas that have suffered personal injuries. Our law firm has over 200 years of combined personal injury law experience, and we are ready to help clients who have suffered serious injuries after an accident. We fight for victims’ rights and will go to trial in the event that an insurance company wrongfully refuses to settle a claim. Call Carabin Shaw at 1-800-862-1260 or use the online form to set up a free consultation.

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