A Pennsylvania couple is suing the United States, the Department of Defense, and the Navy after they "unwittingly buried” their Marine son without his heart because officials in Greece allegedly performed an illegal autopsy.
Craig and Beverly LaLoup filed suit in Philadelphia federal court claiming their son’s body was mishandled, causing negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Their son, Sgt. Brian LaLoup, committed suicide on Aug. 12, 2012, after attending an off-duty party at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. His parents believe the Greek government illegally autopsied him and took his heart.
In the suit they claim the Pentagon attempted "to conceal that their son, Sgt. Brian LaLoup, USMC, had been illegally autopsied, which included the removal of his heart, by the Greek government. Furthermore, defendants failed to take the appropriate steps to have Sgt. LaLoup's heart returned from Greece. As a result, the plaintiffs unwittingly buried their son without his heart and have suffered severe emotional injuries."
The family says their son’s suicidal ideation wasn’t investigated by his superiors.
"During the party, Sgt. LaLoup reported to a fellow service member that he was thinking about suicide," the lawsuit says. "As required by Marine Corps protocol, these comments were reported to the Detachment Commander, Staff Sgt. Martinez. Unfortunately, Staff Sgt. Martinez failed to follow appropriate protocols and procedures, which required him to obtain supervision and medical treatment for Sgt. LaLoup, and instead decided to take him out for more drinking.”
Their son was allegedly given access to weapons after he began drinking.
“Prior to leaving and despite being visibly intoxicated and distraught, Sgt. LaLoup was allowed to pass the guard at the entry to the chancery and enter the response room,” the claim states. “The chancery, which had been left unsecured, is where weapons were stored. Thereafter, according to military reports, Sgt. LaLoup shot himself in the head with an Embassy service weapon."
His parents believe that after he was taken the General Hospital in Athens, his body was not guarded, which is a violation of protocol.
"After Sgt. LaLoup was pronounced dead, the Greek government, in violation of Sgt. LaLoup's diplomatic status, autopsied his body. During the autopsy Sgt. LaLoup's heart was stolen and illegally harvested by the Greek government," the lawsuit says.
His heart was never returned to the U.S. and its whereabouts are unknown.
“It was readily known or foreseeable that Sgt. LaLoup's body would be mutilated, disfigured and illegally autopsied if left behind unguarded,” the claim says. “Yet, defendants did nothing to insure that Sgt. LaLoup was treated with the respect owed a United States Marine. Moreover, defendants failed to take the necessary steps to have Sgt. LaLoup's heart returned from Greece. Instead, defendants worked to conceal the fact that Sgt. LaLoup's heart had been stolen.”
"If someone did this, he should be punished," an employee of the Greek Consulate in San Francisco told Courthouse News Service. "Without the consent of the relatives, nothing can be removed from the body."