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Widower Appeals Ban On Military Injury & Wrongful Death Lawsuits to U.S. Supreme Court


Losing a loved one due to negligence, medical malpractice and/or medical errors is difficult enough without also having to deal with those responsible for your loss blocking you from obtaining any kind of information whatsoever as to what happened to your loved one.

And yet, that is what one man—a Navy Lieutenant—who lost his wife in childbirth at a military hospital is now dealing with. His wife reportedly bled to death within hours of childbirth at a military hospital, and he still does not know how or why it happened. As a result, he is pursuing a wrongful death claim all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the face of a 1950 ruling banning military injury lawsuits.

The Feres Doctrine

While most families can find out more about what exactly happened to their loved ones during the discovery process of litigation, when it comes to injuries suffered by active military/service members, they are denied these basic rights: no formal review, no details, no timeline, no records of what steps were taken to prevent the tragedy—in a nutshell, no answers whatsoever.

The doctrine which blocks what many would call the right to file a claim and obtain justice for their loss is known as the “Feres doctrine,” which came out of a federal case 68 years ago and which currently bars active-duty military members from suing the federal government for injuries, including medical malpractice and wrongful death-related claims.

The Nine Million Affected

As a result, this widower is currently petitioning the highest court in the country to revisit the 1950 ruling and allow for military service members to sue for medical malpractice—and other injury claims—in the same way that civilians currently can. If he is successful, this could have huge repercussions on the ability for families of service members to hold hospitals and medical providers accountable for mistakes made that injure their loved ones, as the military health system services more than nine million beneficiaries.

The U.S. Supreme Court previously addressed the Feres doctrine in a case brought more than 30 years ago, where the Court upheld the doctrine in a sharply-divided 5-4 decision. Since then, it has refused to accept a couple of cases that would have also allowed reconsideration of the doctrine. Still, if there was ever a case that should warrant reconsideration of the doctrine, this is arguably the one: not only was this a devastating situation, but there is a good argument that negligence was unquestionably involved, and the result of taking up the case would affect a number of service members, all of whom should arguably have the same rights that civilians already do.

Contact Our Florida Injury & Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice and/or wrongful death, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out how we can help you achieve justice.

For more information and in depth analysis, please contact Attorney Ken Ronan at and Case Manager Richard Bagdasarian at


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