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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Deceased Marine’s Father Ordered to Pay Legal Fees

(CN) - The father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church must pay the protesters $16,000 in legal fees after the family sued in 2006 for invasion of privacy, the 4th Circuit ruled.

Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq in 2006. Fred Phelps and his congregation from Topeka, Kan., appeared outside the funeral in Maryland carrying signs reading, "You're going to hell," "God hates you" and "Thank God for dead soldiers."

The Snyders sued, alleging privacy invasion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other torts.

A jury gave the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages. The $8 million was later reduced to $5 million.

Phelps appealed in 2008, and the 4th Circuit reversed, agreeing with the church that its First Amendment rights were trampled.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has agreed to hear the case, and will consider reinstating the judgment.

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