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Press Release

AAJ Supports Bipartisan Legislation to Restore Basic Legal Protections to Servicemembers

Bill would restore rights of servicemembers injured by medical malpractice

April 30,2019

Washington, DC—The American Association for Justice proudly supports bipartisan legislation introduced today that allows servicemembers to seek justice when they are physically harmed by medical malpractice. “The Sfc. Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019” was introduced today by a bipartisan group of original sponsors including Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Greg Steube (R-FL), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Charlie Crist (D-FL).

An outdated Supreme Court decision from 1950 established the Feres Doctrine, which prevents active duty military from holding the government accountable for injuries sustained during service, including medical malpractice. The bipartisan bill would restore the right of servicemembers to hold the U.S. Government accountable for non-service-related injuries including surgical items left inside patients, failure to diagnosis advanced cancer, and maternal death following childbirth. This is a right available to all U.S. citizens, except active duty military.

Feres has allowed the military medical system to remain above legal accountability for far too long,” said Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice. “Military health care providers have been immunized by Feres. This has led to our current military health care system’s sky-high rates of preventable medical errors and no accountability when those errors kill or injure servicemembers. Our servicemembers deserve better.”

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, chaired by Representative Jackie Speier, held on a hearing on this topic today titled “Feres Doctrine – A Policy in Need of Reform?” Sfc. Richard Stakyskal testified before the subcommittee, along with legal experts and other military victims of medical malpractice.

“AAJ is proud to stand with active duty military members and the bipartisan group of sponsors who are fighting for justice and accountability for those who give so much to our country. We urge Congress to pass this legislation and protect our servicemembers’ rights,” concluded Lipsen.

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