A 70-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision known as the “Feres “doctrine prevented active duty service members from suing the U.S. government for medical malpractice. However, the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, contains a provision that now allows soldiers to bring claims for medical malpractice occurring at military facilities under the Military Claims Act.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed 86-8 by the Senate, in part thanks to efforts from Richard Stayskal, an active duty service member who spent more than a year advocating for the legislation after his progressive lung cancer was misdiagnosed by military doctors in North Carolina. Stayskal now has stage 4 terminal lung cancer.
According to MedPage Today, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) who introduced the legislation to the House of Representatives, this is a ‘partial fix.’ In a statement, Speier said, “After nearly 70 years of the Feres Doctrine, service members and their families finally have a path forward in seeking compensation for medical malpractice committed by military healthcare providers, and the Defense Department will have to take their claims seriously.”
While the Military Claims Act does not allow active duty military to sue, it does finally provide some relief for soldiers that are injured by negligent military providers.
Our Firm has Extensive Experience with Military Claims Cases
For decades we have assisted military families, dependents, and military retirees in bringing claims against the U.S. government for medical malpractice occurring at military hospitals, at home, and abroad. Now, our experience- which has resulted in the recovery of over $40 million for military families- is enabling us to expand our practice to assist active duty members who are now able to file these same claims under the Military Claims Act.