Military Dependents’ Rights under Attack

Navy aviation mechanic Jimmy German lost his wife when she went to Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., due to the hospital failing to diagnose his wife’s cerebral hemorrhaging. As a result of the hospital’s error, she suffered a catastrophic stroke and died. Now, the U.S. Government wants the medical error to be erased.

The government lawyers are attempting to have the Mr. German’s case dismissed on the basis that the Feres doctrine should block the suit for negligence against even military dependents. The Feres Doctrine has barred lawsuits by soldiers against the government for injuries caused by military medical providers’ malpractice since a 1950 Supreme Court decision. However, the Feres doctrine has never been expanded to prevent military dependents from recovering against military healthcare providers.

In over sixty years, the government has never said dependent victims should be barred. Until now! In fact, according to the January 30, 2012 Marine Corp Times, “[i]n just the past few years, the government has annually settled several dozen military medical malpractice claims and lawsuits involving family members—a number of them filed by service members, records show.”

As a law firm who has successfully prosecuted actions on behalf of Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force dependents against military medical providers, we are deeply concerned about this attempt to take away our military family members’ rights, especially for the families of Fort Benning soldiers! We will continue to fight for those rights in any way possible, and will keep our military friends and family updated on the status of the Florida federal court’s decision as soon as the court rules on the government’s motion to dismiss.