Wrongful Death Suit Barred by Military Law Heads to The U.S. Supreme Court

October 24, 2018
Wrongful Death Suit Barred by Military Law Heads to The U.S. Supreme Court

Four years ago, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant bled to death after childbirth in a military hospital. Now, her widower is prepared to challenge a ruling that bars active-duty military members from suing the federal government in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. A detailed article on the case is available here.

A Tragic Loss

In 2014, 33-year-old Navy Lieutenant Rebekah Daniel bled to death inside Washington’s Naval Hospital Bremerton—hours after giving birth following a low-risk pregnancy. Her husband, former Coast Guard officer Walter Daniel, disputes claims she died of rare complications of childbirth. He argues she died as a result of negligent medical care. His 2015 wrongful death lawsuit was dismissed—as were subsequent appeals—under the Feres Doctrine.

An Unfortunate Law

The Feres Doctrine—passed in 1950—bars active-duty military members from suing the federal government for injuries. Through his lawyer, Mr. Daniel has petitioned SCOTUS to amend the law and create an exception allowing military personnel to sue for medical malpractice. When last challenged in 1987, SCOTUS ruled in favor of upholding the Feres Doctrine and has since refused reconsideration.

How the Law Works

Feres states active-duty military cannot sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act for “injuries to members of the armed forces sustained while on active duty and not on furlough and resulting from the negligence of others in the armed forces.”

SCOTUS reasoned the military provides comprehensive relief for injury or death, finding no parallel to private liability. Critics claim the Feres Doctrine removes the right to redress of grievances and allows the military health system to escape scrutiny.

We Can Help

If you have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one due to negligent care, medical malpractice, or intentional harm, call Graves McLain right away at 918-359-6600. When you call one of our compassionate Tulsa, Oklahoma Wrongful Death Attorneys, we will speak with you for FREE and determine the best course of action.

We review every detail of your situation at no cost to you—and fight hard to protect your rights. Trust our team, we are here to help. At Graves McLain, you will never pay an attorney’s fee upfront—and you owe us nothing until we win your case. At Graves McLain, we don’t get paid until you do.

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