A widow's long struggle with the military over the disputed identity of bone fragments found in Southeast Asia came to a close when a judge ordered the government to pay Anne Hart and her family more than $600,000.
"The bottom line is no amount of money in the world is going to undo what has been done to this family," Hart, 45, said after the ruling Thursday. "There is a certain sense of comfort in the belief that we have made a tiny change in the system."U.S. District Judge Winston Arnow ordered the government to pay Hart $382,814.62 for severe emotional damage. He said Hart's daughter, Gillian Hart, and her mother-in-law, Vera Hart, should each get $125,000.
Two years ago the family sued seeking $20 million from the Army and Air Force for trying to force them to accept its identification of seven bone fragments as the remains of Lt. Col. Thomas Hart III, shot down over Laos 16 years ago.
The fragments were excavated in early 1985 and positively identified a few months later. In late 1985 the government wanted to bury them despite a second opinion that the remains could not be identified.
The identification was later rescinded when a special board of experts criticized the military's procedures.
The Hart family called the government's actions intentional and "outrageous."