The U.S. Department of Justice working to expand the scope of a precedent set in the 1950 Supreme Court decision of Feres v. United States, which prohibits military members from taking the government to court. While the Feres Doctrine prevents active military personnel from filing lawsuits for monetary damages against the government for injuries or death while on active duty, government lawyers are currently trying to extend the doctrine to prevent the families of active duty military members from being able to file medical malpractice lawsuits.
“This is a whopper of a theory and it immediately raised the hackles of attorneys who practice in this field,” wrote Andrew Cohen for The Atlantic. “Now, all of sudden, family members of military personnel can’t sue the U.S. for negligence because their loved ones are on active duty?”
AllGov reports that Eugene Fidell, a military law expert at Yale University, told the Military Times that the intent of the Feres Doctrine was never to protect military hospitals from civilian suits. “If the government can plausibly take a position like this, something is basically wrong,” said Fidell. “The outcome the government is arguing for is intolerable. If the government wins this motion, Congress has to step in.”