Navy denies lawsuit filed by family of sailor who killed himself in military jail

Macoy Hicks in 2017 (Family photo)

A US Navy Sailor died while in military custody for a mental health episode, and now the family of the deceased has been kicked back by the Navy.

The parents of Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Macoy Hicks, aged 20, were told they could not sue the Navy for what they felt was subpar mental health care.

Hicks reportedly hung himself with a belt while in the custody of military jailers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, in February 2019.

At the time, Hicks was being confined for nearly a month following an undisclosed incident.

According to the Navy Times, the Navy claims that the recent law change that banned military members from suing the government does not apply to the claim because “the allegedly negligent care did not occur in a covered military treatment facility.”

The health care was conducted aboard the USS Nimitz carrier,  not in the jail where Hicks took his own life.

“The allegedly negligent care did not occur in a covered military treatment facility,” the Navy letter read. “Rather, it occurred onboard a Department of the Navy ship (USS Nimitz) and a Department of the Army brig. Therefore, your client’s claim is denied.”

Darrin Bailey, an attorney for the Hicks family, seemed unsurprised by the determination. 

“This kind of self-protective response is exactly what we can expect with the new law, with the (U.S. Defense Department) making its own rules, applying its own definitions and determining claims behind a curtain without transparency,” Bailey said in an email.

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