Former SEALs take aim at each other in court
By Mike Hixenbaugh | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: June 19, 2014
CHESAPEAKE, Va. — How do a couple of former Navy SEALs settle a dispute over guns and money? The same way most people do: They hire lawyers and sue.
Former sniper Bill White fired first last month when he filed a lawsuit against his former employer, retired SEAL Don Shipley.
Shipley, who runs a training camp in Chesapeake for aspiring commandos, responded last week with a suit of his own.
White alleges that Shipley and his wife failed to fully compensate him for organizing and teaching a three-day shooting course last fall for their business, Extreme SEAL Experience. He's asking for almost $25,000.
Shipley claims that White committed several safety violations during the training course in North Carolina — including allowing underage drinking and shooting after dark — that tarnished his company's name and led to lost business. He and his wife are seeking damages totaling $1.1 million.
Under the advice of lawyers, neither man is talking. Nor is the owner of the gun range in Currituck County where the shooting course took place.
But an email exchange included as part of White's lawsuit sheds some light on the matter.
In November, White quit his job with Extreme SEAL Experience via text message. A few days later, Shipley emailed him, asking that he return the bolts needed to fire two high-end sniper rifles.
White wrote back several days later, apparently after receiving a check for less than he thought he was due: "Don... I can't tell you how disappointed I am. If you have any integrity left you will make things right."
"Let's push past this," Shipley wrote in his response.
If Shipley wanted his sniper rifle bolts, White wrote a few days later, "come and get them." He added, "Don, don't tarnish the Trident anymore," referring to the SEAL emblem.
Next came an email from Shipley's wife, Diane. She argued that White had been fairly compensated and ended with two words that White, according to his lawsuit, perceived as a threat: "Tread lightly."
Lawyers for both parties said they have been trying to work out a settlement.
Getting the parties together, however, has been a struggle.