Amputee Vet Says Nonprofit Defamed Him

(CN) – A soldier who lost both legs and an arm in Iraq says the nonprofit Homes for Our Troops promised to build him a new house, then rescinded its offer and defamed him after he helped it raise money. Sgt. David Battle was wounded by an improvised explosive device in December 2007; his right leg and hip were amputated, as were his left leg below the knee and his right arm above the elbow.

     Battle claims in Baltimore Federal Court that Homes for Our Troops agreed to build him a house if he helped the organization solicit donations to help pay for it.
     Battle says he underwent 100 surgeries after being wounded, and is still being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He says he made several TV and radio appearances on behalf of Homes for Our Troops and his photograph was displayed at the construction site and on the group Web site.
     But when the house was completed in June this year, Homes for Our Troops president John Gonsalves allegedly told Battle’s wife that the group would not give them title to the house because Battle had “lied” about owning other houses, which he had purchased with insurance money.
     Battle says he was not planning to live in any of the three homes he had bought. He says they are rental properties and are not equipped to handle his wheelchair. He says the basement of one house was renovated to be wheelchair-accessible he could visit the family who lives there.
     Battle says Gonsalves defamed him in a radio interview in which he accused Battle of breaching his contract with Homes for Our Troops; and he says the organization defamed him by posting a press release on its Web site stating that Battle “was not forthright” with them.
     Battle seeks title to the house, and $2.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages. His attorney, Jack McKay with Pillsbury Winthrop of Washington D.C., was not available for comment Tuesday.

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