In many regards, dealing with an investigation of property loss that leads to a financial liability is really no different than the military justice system for any other charge of misconduct. That’s because in both cases, the odds are stacked against the defendant and the prosecution/command/investigators are merely looking to scare the hell out of everyone else. The government doesn’t really need to take a couple of hundred thousand dollars from you, regardless of what property was lost. As far as the Pentagon is concerned, that much money is a rounding error and likely wouldn’t even cover the cost of one Four Star General’s private golden toilet. No, they are coming for that money to scare every future Primary Hand Receipt Holder (PRHR) to the point that they’ll order battalion rectal inspections if so much as a single round of ammunition goes missing. They are looking to make an example out of you and if you let them, they’ll take your money and your career.
When In Doubt, File a FLIPL Rebuttal
Again, the Pentagon doesn’t need your money. They need to make a public example out of you and that’s exactly what they will do if you don’t put up a fight. It doesn’t matter if you personally led a squadron of F-35s over the side of an Aircraft Carrier and into the sea because you were playing a flute like the Pied Piper of the Pacific Fleet. File a FLIPL rebuttal if you want to save your career and save your money.
The simple truth is that the investigators must prove that your personal conduct was the proximate cause of the loss, damage, destruction, or theft and they are going to fight like hell to ignore any evidence that says otherwise. That’s because they need their example and a just or unjust example will do all the same.
Look, this is not to speak poorly of the military that you have faithfully served all these years. You may very well love the uniform and that’s why you’ve committed so much of your life to service. Nor does this mean that you are trying to shirk accountability or your oath and duties as a commissioned officer. This is about preventing unjust financial ruin for you and for those that come after you. This is about making yourself a harder target so that the military justice has to look elsewhere for their easy “example.”
How To Fight And Win Against FLIPL
All service branches have their FLIPL or equivalent, but for purposes of instruction, we’re going to use the Army’s regulations as an example. Army Regulation 735-5 indicates that “before holding a person financially liable for a loss to the Government, the facts must clearly show that the person’s conduct was the proximate cause of the loss, damage, destruction, or theft.”
That same regulation then defines “proximate cause” as “The cause which in a natural and continuous sequence of events unbroken by a new cause produced the loss or the damage. Without this cause, the loss or damage would not have occurred.”
The truth that the military justice system does not want you to understand is that all you have to do in the rebuttal is to establish that an intervening or superseding cause led to the property loss or destruction. That’s the truth and to be honest, it is really not that hard to establish when you have an experienced attorney assist you with the rebuttal. There are a million superseding reasons under the sun that property gets lost or destroyed in the military and none of them are because you are truly liable. Things happens in the military and you shouldn’t have to pay $200k back to Uncle Sam because it does.
What Types of Intervening or Superseding Causes Exist During FLIPL
Both misconduct and negligence on the part of another service member can be enough to put together an adequate rebuttal to a FLIPL. Now, let that sink in for bit and ask yourself, if incompetence exists anywhere in the ranks underneath you. Sweet Jesus, we have some remarkably incompetent boots in our beloved military. We train them, lead them, educate them, but there is a level of incompetence that is almost genetic in a few of them.
Now, this is true whether or not their rank has a little shine in it or not. The officers and noncommissioned officers underneath you have let you down before and we’ll be damned if they are about to cost you $200,000 as a result of that incompetence.
Just recently, an F/A-18 Super Hornet was blown overboard into the Mediterranean Sea from the USS. Harry S. Truman and you can be certain that some FLIPL investigator got a mild erection when he heard the news. The story is that unexpectedly heavy weather was to blame and that can be good news because a natural disaster can be viewed as an intervening cause.
Don’t get me wrong, someone is going to lose their career over that incident. However, some poor schmuck won’t be holding a $52 million dollar tab if the weather was truly to blame and there was no negligence involved. The point of all that is that it is really not that hard to convince someone that reasonable superseding events were at play. As such, you can just look at your FLIPL tab and say, “aye aye boss, I’ll pay you back in monthly installments for the rest of my life.” No, you need to fight and you need to put forth a rebuttal.
Filing a FLIPL Rebuttal Brings Peace of Mind For Life
It would be one thing if you had to forfeit 1/3rd of your pay for a year or perhaps drop a thousand dollar fine. The type of money that gets charged to service members during a FLIPL is life altering. It doesn’t matter if you are a Brigade Commander with a long and storied career. Few have $200,000 sitting around in the bank doing nothing. Paying back that sum of money will change the course of your retirement and your future.
You have to fight back, even if just for peace of mind. The amount of money you would pay an experienced attorney to fight back on your behalf pales in comparison to the amount of money you are going to owe the government. You just can’t take that lying down, even if you did screw up. Just because you want to take personal accountability does not mean you should assume financial ruin.
If you are staring down the barrel of a FLIPL right now, give us a call. We’ll shoot you straight on exactly what you are facing and draft a rebuttal that lets the military justice system know that you will not go quietly into the night. You’re going to fight and if they are looking for an example to scare the hell out of everyone else, they better try and find that example in the next guy. Reach out to us and get us into this fight on your behalf.