Chesco family, seeking heart of dead son, loses round in court

Marine Sgt. Brian LaLoup's family wants answers about his heart.
Marine Sgt. Brian LaLoup's family wants answers about his heart.
Posted: July 16, 2014

Members of a Coatesville family seeking to learn how their son's heart disappeared after his death in Greece two years ago will have to find answers outside of a courtroom, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell tossed out the family's claims against Greece and an Athens hospital, saying they had not met the high burden required to sue a foreign government in U.S. courts.

In a ruling Thursday, the judge did, however, clear the way for the parents of Marine Sgt. Brian LaLoup to pursue a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress against the U.S. government, which the family says withheld information about his incomplete remains.

The LaLoups filed their suit last year against Greece and Evangelismos General Hospital in Athens, alleging the autopsy in which their son's heart disappeared was conducted over objections from U.S. military and diplomatic officials.

LaLoup, who was an embassy security officer in Athens, fatally shot himself Aug. 12, 2012, after a night of heavy drinking.

His family members claimed the U.S. military never informed them that his remains were incomplete.

They only learned the truth after his burial - and even then, only when an officer let the fact slip in conversation.

The hospital and the Defense Department later claimed to have located the heart and sent it to the United States. But testing revealed that the organ sent to the family did not match the dead Marine's DNA.

Since the LaLoups filed suit, Greek officials have said the heart was removed for toxicology testing. In a typical step in autopsies there, it was held at a pathology lab at the medical school of the University of Athens for at least three months, the Greek government said in court filings.

What happened to it afterward remains unclear.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649 @jeremyrroebuck

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