Supreme Court rules in favor of burn pit veteran in wrongful termination case

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A former Texas state trooper and veteran will be capable of proceed along with his wrongful termination case after the Supreme Court dominated in his favor on Wednesday over claims he was compelled out of his job when he returned from Army service in Iraq.

The justices dominated in a 5-4 vote that Army veteran Le Roy Torres’ rights to employment have been underneath a federal legislation that was enacted in 1994 in the wake of the Persian Gulf War for returning service members.

“I’m beyond thrilled and thankful that the Supreme Court agrees with our position and upheld the rights of service members like myself,” Torres instructed Fox News in an interview after receiving information of the ruling. “You come back from war, and you think your job is protected.”

He went on, “Today’s vote brings a sense of peace and some type of closure for me, as well as the things that I’ve been dealing with for these four or five years with my job loss.”


The service member claimed he was compelled to resign from his publish as a state trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). His ouster got here after he was experiencing the results of in depth lung injury he developed after his publicity to burn pits whereas serving as a U.S. Army reservist in Balad, Iraq. 

Le Roy Torres says he was effectively ousted from his state trooper position by the Texas Department of Public Safety when his medical condition from burn pit exposure made him unable to fulfill patrol duties.

Le Roy Torres says he was successfully ousted from his state trooper position by the Texas Department of Public Safety when his medical situation from burn pit publicity made him unable to meet patrol duties.
(Le Roy and Rosie Torres)

Torres first filed a lawsuit in opposition to the DPS and the state of Texas again in February 2017, claiming his employee rights underneath the Uniformed Services and Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), a federal statute strengthening job protections for service members, have been violated. The state countered his claims and argued in courtroom that Texas had sovereign immunity from lawsuits like Torres’ and his case had been stalled in the Texas courts ever since.


“It was just this moment of restoration for us, a moment of hope.” Leroy’s spouse, Rosie Torres, instructed Fox News. “The SCOTUS decision gave us a piece of our life back today, and I feel not just for us, for our family, but for the thousands of families waiting on this decision with Leroy’s case.”

The excessive courtroom rejected Texas’ declare that it is shielded from such lawsuits. 

“Text, history, and precedent show that the States, in coming together to form a Union, agreed to sacrifice their sovereign immunity for the good of the common defense,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the courtroom.

Torres was known as up for obligation from the reserves in 2007 whereas serving as a trooper in the Lone Star State. It was throughout that point that he was uncovered to burn pits at his base in Balad. The pits have been typically used throughout many U.S. army bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan through the wars as a crude methodology of incineration in which each piece of waste generated on the bottom was burned, together with plastics, batteries, home equipment, drugs, useless animals and even human waste.

The gadgets have been typically set ablaze with jet gasoline because the accelerant with over 1,000 totally different chemical compounds burning into the air, day and night time.


Torres returned dwelling to Texas in 2007 and resumed his obligation as a state trooper a year later, after an honorable discharge from army service. It was round that point that he additionally began feeling the results of his burn pit publicity.

The veteran claimed it was throughout that point when he began waking up with debilitating complications that usually lasted all through the day.

It was whereas he was chasing a suspect through the summer time of 2009 that Torres realized one thing was actually improper along with his well being. 

The Iraq War veteran developed a host of lung issues as well as toxic brain injury after returning home from service.

The Iraq War veteran developed a bunch of lung points in addition to poisonous brain harm after returning dwelling from service.
(Le Roy and Rosie Torres)

“I was in a lot of pain with chest pressure. I was afraid that I was having a stroke and I had no backup until like 10 minutes later,” Torres instructed Fox News again in March. “I felt really horrible that day, and that’s when I knew that there was something going on.”

The trooper began calling out sick, unable to carry out his patrol duties. Torres was experiencing a myriad of signs together with debilitating complications, vertigo, and a persistent, unforgiving cough.

He ultimately realized his publicity to these burn pits at his base in Balad had led to poisonous brain harm and a number of other lung illnesses.

Once recognized, Torres stated he returned to his commanding officers at DPS and knowledgeable them that he wished to return to work however that on account of his situation he may not go on patrol and requested lodging for a desk job. The trooper stated he was denied his request and was provided his authentic position and instructed that he could be fired if he couldn’t carry out his duties. Torres basically was compelled to go away his job.

Torres was stationed at a base in Balad during the Iraq War.

Torres was stationed at a base in Balad through the Iraq War.
(Le Roy and Rosie Torres)

Now that the Supreme Court has dominated in his favor, Torres stated he is trying ahead to bringing his case again to the Texas courts. Both he and his household stated they hoped Wednesday’s determination will assist set precedent in favor of different service members who’ve gone via the identical points.


“The way Leroy was treated; he was stripped of his dignity, of the honor of him serving our state. The way they approached it was heart-wrenching for him, and to see SCOTUS side with what is right gives us hope,” Rosie Torres stated.

“Future generations will say, ‘You know what? Now I do feel confident enough to join the Army, to defend our freedom because I know that our jobs will be protected.’” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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