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Press Release

Bipartisan Senate Bill Will Restore Basic Legal Protections to Servicemembers

September 10,2019

Washington, DC—The American Association for Justice is endorsing bipartisan legislation that would allow 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: Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI). A bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 30th.

The legislation would restore basic legal protections servicemembers are deprived of by an archaic 1950 Supreme Court decision establishing the Feres Doctrine, which prevents active duty military from holding the government accountable. It authorizes claims for non-service-related injuries including surgical items left inside patients, failure to diagnosis advanced cancer, and maternal death following childbirth.

“For over 70 years, men and women in our armed forces have been denied their rights to hold the US government accountable for improper and unsafe medical care,” said Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice. “Our military service men and women are the only class of US citizens who have zero recourse when they are victims of medical malpractice. Even federal prisoners and wartime detainees have this right. That is un-American and Congress needs to fix it.”

Richard Stayskal’s story has received an increasing amount of attention as he and others affected by the Feres Doctrine have appeared in front of Congress and worked to raise the profile of this harmful policy. These efforts continue to gain momentum in light of the Supreme Court declining in May to take up two cases challenging Feres.

Carly Moore Sfregola
Phone: 202-684-9609