Military Families Fight for Right to Sue

High court ruling forbids suits against military hospitals
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2008 5:51 PM CDT
A series of major errors in post-op care led to the death of Staff Sgt. Dean Witt, but Feres vs. United States leaves his widow with no legal recourse against the military hospital.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – Many grieving families are outraged that they cannot sue over medical malpractice in military hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some have seen sons and husbands—all active duty service members—die in hospitals where resources are stretched thin. But a 1950 Supreme Court ruling created the Feres doctrine, which protects military doctors and their staffs from malpractice suits.

Backers of the ruling say such suits would "have dire implications" for the US military. "Nobody wants some judge meddling in military matters," one lawyer said. But a non-profit group has risen to repeal it, and lawmakers have vowed to help. Said Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey: "No service member should ever become sick or die as the result of poor military medical care." (Read more US military stories.)