The family of Harry Dunn, the British teenager killed in a 2019 traffic collision, have been granted permission to seek compensation against the American suspect despite her diplomatic immunity, a US court ruled on Wednesday.
Dunn, 19, died in August 2019 near an air force base in Northamptonshire, England, used by the United States military.
Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US military staff, admitted she was driving on the wrong side of the road when she collided with Dunn but the couple fled the UK invoking diplomatic immunity. Appeals by Dunn”s family to extradite Sacoolas, who now resides in Virginia, have failed.
The family filed a civil lawsuit in Virginia last year and on Wednesday a judge in Alexandria rejected a motion by Sacoolas and her husband to dismiss the lawsuit.
District Judge T.S. Ellis III had last month already rejected the couple lawyer’s argument that the case should be tossed out in the US because it should be heard in the UK instead.
The judge’s ruling said then that “while it is commendable that Defendant Anne Sacoolas admits that she was negligent and that her negligence caused Harry Dunn’s death, this does not equate acceptance of responsibility.”
Radd Seiger, the spokesman for Dunn’s family, said that it was “a verdict for common sense.”
The family’s lawsuit alleges that Sacoolas did not call an ambulance and that it was a passerby who arrived several minutes later who called for help.
Sacoolas’ lawyers have objected and filed a “notice of correction” to clarify her conduct. They acknowledge that she didn’t call for an ambulance but say she flagged down another driver, who did, and that she notified the nearby Air Force base, which actually provided the first emergency assistance.
Judge Ellis said in a reaction to the “notice of correction”: “You can make your case to the public if you wish but you can’t change my order by filing a notice of correction.”
The parties have been asked to discuss the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. If the negotiations fail, a trial would then be expected to take place later in the year.