Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The push to finally allow troops to sue the military over medical malpractice just got a major boost in Congress
A senator has taken up the cause to negate a controversial court ruling that bars service members from suing the federal government in cases of medical malpractice by military doctors.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, has introduced an amendment to the Senate's proposed defense policy bill that would allow military personnel to file claims for injury or death caused by improper medical or dental care or during research studies at a military medical facility.
Troops are prevented from suing the federal government for injuries deemed incidental to military service, including medical malpractice, under a 1950 court ruling, Feres v. United States. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that service members fall under an exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act -- the law that allows citizens to sue the government.
Kennedy's amendment mirrors similar legislation introduced in April in the House, which seeks to exempt medical negligence or wrongful acts by military physicians from the ruling, commonly referred to as the Feres doctrine.
"Everyone knew that it was building up and thought it could get violent."
Under the proposed amendment, troops and their families would be allowed to sue, except in cases of care rendered at battalion aid stations, in combat or at a field facility in a combat zone.
The Senate plans to debate the defense bill this week; whether any amendments will be considered and included in the final draft has not been announced. In past years, fewer than a handful of amendments have received a roll call vote.
In the House, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, has sponsored the Sgt. First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act, named for an ArmyGreen Beret and former Marine who has terminal lung cancer and whose military doctors failed to follow up on a suspicious mass found during a pre-training medical screening.
Speier said the legislation, which has been forwarded to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, is needed because the Feres ruling has "deprived troops of their legal rights."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in three separate cases in 1950 that the Federal Tort Claims Act, the law that permits citizens sue the government for wrongdoings by federal employees or agencies, does not apply to most service members for injuries resulting from the negligence of other military personnel.
The justices said the ruling was needed to ensure that Congress was not "burdened with private bills on behalf of military and naval personnel."
Critics have argued, however, that the compensation package provided to troops or their families following a major medical error in a U.S. military medical facility is not sufficient to care for severely injured or ill personnel or their families in cases of death.
Speier's proposed legislation was the first introduced in nearly a decade challenging Feres in medical malpractice cases. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat who passed away in 2017 after serving in Congress for 20 years, introduced the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act in 2010.
The bill was named for a Marine sergeant who died at age 29 in 2007 from melanoma. His military doctors found an unusual growth and labeled it in Rodriguez's records as a melanoma, but never told him and didn't treat it.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided against hearing a case that challenged the legitimacy of the Feres ruling. In similar cases during the past several decades, the justices have said that Congress needed to change the law if it wanted troops to have the right to sue.
As with the House bill, Kennedy's amendment would apply to claims pending on the date the bill becomes law and any claims arising after the bill is signed.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
More articles from Military.com:
- Supreme Court Denies Military Malpractice Case Petition
- Controversial Military Medical Malpractice Ruling May Be Closer to Overturn than Ever
- Bill Would let Troops Sue For Military Medical Malpractice
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for having sexual contact with a 14-year-old Oceanside girl in 2017, federal prosecutors in San Diego said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.