'Poolee' Can't Sue Marines for Training Injuries

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 16, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Marines used to say they were looking for a few good men, but times have changed.

The military is not just for men, and the truth is, it's not for every man. Joseph S. Hajdusek, for example, found out the training was more than he could handle.

In Hajdusek v . United States of America, a federal appeals court said it wasn't the government's fault that he suffered a disabling injury when a sergeant drilled him into the ground.


Hajdusek signed up for a Marine Corps program that allows people to participate as reserves for a year before joining the corps. The reservists are called "poolees."

They go through rigorous training, including physical and mental tests. The program is designed to help with training and to reduce attrition.

One day, Hajdusek said, his sergeant put him through a workout that was "much longer and much more strenuous than any other workout" he had ever been given. Hajdusek collapsed several times, but got up and finished.

Several days later, however, he started to have blurred vision and nausea. His doctor said he had rhabdomyolysis, a condition caused when muscle tissue dies from extreme overuse and enters the bloodstream.

R habdomyolysis

Hajdusek sued the government for causing his injuries and related disabilities under the Federal Tort Claims Act. A trail judge dismissed, leading to a review by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court said Congress did not intend judges to second-guess Marine Corps training. It might be different if a sergeant told a solider to "jump off a twenty-five foot cliff onto concrete," the appeals panel said, but that was not Hajdusek's case.

Although they were sympathetic, the judges still affirmed the decision against him. As much as it hurts, some people actually can't handle the truth.

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