Active duty military members now have the right to sue for medical malpractice injuries after a December vote by Congress to enact a new provision to the National Defense Authorization Act.
As our South Florida medical malpractice attorneys can explain, long-held legal precedent has been that service members are prohibited from suing the Armed Forces for negligence during active duty that resulted in injury. This principle has come to be called “the Feres Doctrine,” after a watershed 1950 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Feres v. U.S. It’s been used to toss dozens of cases of serious medical malpractice injury suffered by service members – or discourage them from filing any claim altogether.
The soldier for whom the doctrine is named was a highly-decorated WWII veteran who parachuted into Normandy during D-Day. He prevailed through some of the worst fighting of the war – but died in barracks fire while on base in the U.S. His widow filed a negligence lawsuit against the Army under the Federal Tort Claims Act for its negligence in causing the fire (unsafe due to faulty heating system). The ruling that resulted denied her – and countless other active-duty soldiers and surviving family members – from holding the U.S. government accountable for negligence that occurred during active duty. Continue reading