A Marine Corps recruiting commander has been dismissed from a federal suit in the death of 12-year-old Justin Zankel. U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti has named the federal government as the new defendant in the case.
Judge Conti found that recruiter William Dreyer cannot be held personally liable for Justin's death. She concluded that Mr. Dreyer was acting "within the scope of his employment" as a Marine when he fatally struck Justin with his government car in January 2005. Because there is no cap on damages against the federal government, Justin's family now has a greater chance of recovering the $4 million in damages for which they are asking.
Mr. Dreyer was driving to work when he struck Justin in Baden, PA. Justin died the next day at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Attorney Todd Berkey of the law firm Edgar Snyder & Associates represents the Zankel family. He said that he expects the government to appeal the judge's ruling.