In the 1950s, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Feres v. U.S. that active duty members of the military couldn’t sue the government for negligent acts committed by other members of the armed forces, including medical malpractice claims. The Feres doctrine has been in place for close to 70 years, and in that time, it has received much criticism, even as it has remained the law of the land. However, due to the activism of one sergeant, that is set to change.
The sergeant in question went to military doctors after starting to feel sick, but the military doctors allegedly failed to inform him of a tumor in his lung. Due to this alleged failure to communicate the nature of his illness, the sergeant didn’t receive treatment for his tumor until it had developed into Stage IV cancer. He sued to recover damages but was barred under the Feres doctrine, meaning that he received nothing to compensate for the military doctors’ alleged negligence.
However, rather than simply accept his fate, he started a lobbying campaign to rectify the problem, and successfully managed to add a section to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would permit active duty military members to sue the military for harm they suffer as a result of “negligent or wrongful” medical treatment. While this doesn’t fully reverse Feres, it goes a long way towards helping military members who are the victims of medical malpractice receive compensation for the harm they suffer.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you’ll need skilled legal representation to assist you. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC are experienced in representing New York City and Long Island residents in medical malpractice and wrongful death matters. To schedule a free consultation, contact our New York City medical malpractice lawyers at (212) 687-2777 or for our Long Island lawyers call (516) 294-8282.