FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Judge Denies Anne Sacoolas’ Motion to Transfer the Dunn Litigation to Great Britain.
VIRGINIA – A federal judge ruled today that the lawsuit brought by the parents of Harry Dunn, the teenager killed by a State Department employee working in the United Kingdom, can proceed to trial in the United States Federal Court in Virginia. On August 27, 2019, Dunn, 19, was hit by a car driven by State Department employee, Anne Sacoolas, who was driving on the wrong side of the road in Croughton, Northamptonshire, England. Brought by Harry’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, and his twin brother Niall, the lawsuit seeks to learn the truth about Dunn’s death and brings civil claims against State Department employee Sacoolas and her husband for causing their son’s death and for failing to call for an ambulance after the accident.
“In conclusion ... the ends of justice are best served by retaining jurisdiction in this case in the Eastern District of Virginia,” said United States District Judge, T.S. Ellis III in today’s order.
“All we want is the truth about what happened to Harry,” said Charlotte Charles, Harry Dunn’s mother. “Any parent who has lost a child can relate to the added pain that comes without having any accountability, and we are ready to move forward and finally get long overdue answers.”
“We are pleased that the judge agreed that this case should stay here in the United States and move forward,” said Agnieszka Fryszman, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Chair of the firm’s Human Rights practice group and the leading attorney for Harry’s family. “Anne Sacoolas’ motion to transfer the case to England was simply unfair. She confirmed she would never return to England to participate in any trial, so we are glad the judge rejected what was in effect an effort to evade accountability for her actions.”
Despite her initial promise to cooperate with the British police in the investigation, Sacoolas left the U.K. after the incident without notifying the local police, asserted diplomatic immunity and has refused to return to face the justice system in Britain.
Dunn was found on the side of the road suffering as he lay face down, fully conscious with multiple broken bones, including open fractures on both legs and both arms and extensive internal injuries. Although Sacoolas remained at the scene it is believed she provided no care to Dunn, and it was only when a passerby came upon the scene that an ambulance was called.
When paramedics arrived, Dunn was conscious and able to speak with them. He was able to tell them that Sacoolas had been driving on the wrong side of the road and that she hit him with her SUV. Tragically, Dunn died shortly after arriving at the hospital as a result of the catastrophic injuries he suffered in the accident.
After further investigation, the British Crown Prosecution Service charged Sacoolas with causing Dunn’s death by dangerous driving, but she has refused and actively fought a return to the U.K. to face Britain’s justice system. The U.K. government made an extradition request to the United States, which was denied as recently as a few weeks ago. The State Department has described the denial as final.
“This is a very sad and tragic case,” said Ted Leopold, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Co-Chair of the firm’s Complex Tort Litigation and Consumer Protection practice groups and a leading attorney for Harry’s family. “We look forward to questioning Sacoolas and learning not just about how this tragic accident occurred, but also her actions or inactions she took at the scene.”
The lawsuit was first filed in September 2020. Dunn’s parents are seeking a trial by jury in Virginia, where the State Department employee Sacoolas is a resident. This case is Dunn v. Sacoolas Case in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.
About Cohen Milstein:
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a national leader in plaintiff-side class action litigation. As one of the premier law firms in the country handling major complex lawsuits, Cohen Milstein, with more than 100 attorneys, has offices in Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Palm Beach Gardens, FL; and Raleigh, NC. For more information about the firm, please visit http://www.cohenmilstein.com or call (202) 408-4600.
Dean Pearce / 630.723.7490