- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi attorney general’s office says the state cannot be sued over the death of a Gaming Commission agent killed during a training exercise.

Attorney General Jim Hood’s staff filed papers Monday in U.S. District Court in Oxford, responding to a suit filed in September by the agent’s widow.

Summer Gorman sued the state, the Gaming Commission, people who had worked for the commission and others, saying 46-year-old John Gorman of Madison died during what should have been a routine event.

During a required weapons training seminar that the Gaming Commission conducted in Tunica in January 2015, an instructor shot John Gorman in the chest, according to the lawsuit. The suit says the shooting happened during an exercise in which agents played the role of aggressors against the instructor. It says the training scenario was not supposed to use real weapons.

“A real gun was used by the lead firearms instructor in a non-gun training exercise that was held in an office instead of at a required firearms range,” the lawsuit says. “The firearms instructor ignored significant safety protocols, and thus created a ‘special danger’ to not only John Gorman but also all trainees and the civilians working next door.”

Assistant Attorney General Krissy Nobile wrote Monday that under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, states are immune from being sued. She wrote that there are three exceptions to that immunity, but that Summer Gorman’s case does not meet any of those exceptions. The state had already asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

John Gorman worked for the Gaming Commission for 20 years and had been promoted to director of investigations for the agency shortly before he was killed. Summer Gorman’s lawsuit asks that a jury award her an unspecified amount of actual and punitive damages in her husband’s death, plus an unspecified amount for her attorneys’ fees.

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This story has been corrected to show John Gorman was 46.


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