Retired Capt. Le Roy Torres, a former Texas state trooper and Army Reserve veteran, was awarded nearly $2.5 million after a Texas jury agreed that he was wrongly terminated due to war-related illnesses. Torres, who served in Iraq and has since been diagnosed with various severe health issues, initially filed the lawsuit in 2017, alleging he was forced out of his job in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
1. Background: Le Roy Torres filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety, claiming he was forced out of his trooper position because of illnesses connected to his deployment in Iraq.
2. War-Related Illnesses: Torres’ health problems trace back to his deployment at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, where he was exposed to toxic fumes from a burn pit. He has been diagnosed with terminal lung disease, toxic brain injury, and autoimmune issues.
3. Legal Battle: State attorneys argued Texas had immunity against such suits, but the Supreme Court sided with Torres in 2022. A Nueces County jury then awarded Torres nearly $2.5 million for lost salary, benefits, and anticipated promotions.
4. Toxic Exposure Advocacy: Beyond the lawsuit, Torres has been a significant advocate for toxic exposure recognition, founding the nonprofit Burn Pits 360. He also played a role in pushing the PACT Act of 2022, which expanded VA benefits to veterans affected by toxic exposure.
5. PACT Act Implications: The Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 recognized over 20 health conditions presumed to be caused by toxic exposure, granting millions of veterans access to VA benefits and healthcare related to these issues.