By Alex Dominguez
November 1, 2007
BALTIMORE (AP) — The father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million yesterday by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist Kansas church had invaded the family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine's funeral.
The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress to the Marine's father, Albert Snyder of York, Pa.
Mr. Snyder sued Westboro Baptist Church members who staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral at St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster, Md., of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.
Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying such signs as "Thank God for dead soldiers." The church members testified they are following their religious beliefs by spreading the message that the deaths of soldiers are due to the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.
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