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San Antonio Rep. Castro supports burn pits lawsuit before U.S. Supreme Court

LeRoy and Rosie Torres review medical records at their home in Robstown, Texas.
Carson Frame | TPR News

San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro and five other members of Congress have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of a Texas man who is suing the state.

Le Roy Torres sued the Texas Department of Public Safety after, he says, the agency forced him to resign from his job as a state trooper. It also did not provide accommodations for his breathing problems, he says, which were caused by exposure to burn pits when he was deployed as a reservist in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.

A Texas appellate court ruled that the state of Texas is immune to such lawsuits.

Torres, who retired as an Army captain, seeks civilian job rights and benefits of servicemembers and veterans under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

“People shouldn't have to be fearful of not having their jobs secured when they come back from serving our country," said Rosie Torres, the petitioner's wife. "So the fact that Congress is even interested in in supporting that an issue that I think has been overlooked for years. It gives us more hope.”

"Le Roy Torres served his nation bravely in Iraq," Castro said in a statement, "and the Texas Department of Public Safety should have been honored to accommodate his disability. By upholding USERRA’s common-sense protections, the Supreme Court can ensure that Texas veterans are not abandoned by our state when they return to civilian life.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to review the case this spring.

Related: Texas Supreme Court To Weigh In: Can Military Reservists Sue The State For Employment Violations?

Carson Frame contributed to this report.

The Military Desk at Texas Public Radio is made possible in part by North Park Lincoln and Rise Recovery.

Jerry Clayton can be reached at jerry@tpr.org or on Twitter at @jerryclayton.