Supreme Court Urged to Evaluate Feres Doctrine

Supreme Court Urged to Evaluate Feres Doctrine

As the Supreme Court evaluates whether to hear arguments concerning a military child whose medical malpractice case was dismissed because of injuries from complications during birth, numerous interested parties have filed amicus – "friends of the court" – briefs.

The case at issue involves the "Feres Doctrine", which provides that active duty troops cannot sue the government. This doctrine however, has been applied to keep military personnel from suing government run hospitals and physicians, even where it is likely that medical negligence has led to a significant personal injury.

In this instance, a mother who served in the military, went to an Army Hospital to deliver her child. During the delivery, the mother was given a medication which she was allergic to, despite her allergy noted in medical records. As she started to have a reaction, doctors administered another medication to counteract the allergic reaction. However, the second medication then caused her blood pressure to rapidly drop, depriving her unborn baby of oxygen. The staff failed to properly monitor the fetal distress, and subsequently did not take prompt action to address the crisis. As a result, according to legal documents, the child suffered brain and nerve damage.

The lower courts determined that the Feres Doctrine barred the family from bringing a lawsuit on behalf of the mother and child. Several briefs have been prepared urging the Supreme Court to take this case and the doctrine under advisement, asserting that the doctrine deprives military women and their children the opportunity to seek redress when harmed by medical malpractice and unfairly discriminates against military women by only barring birth injury lawsuits of children born of active duty mothers – not fathers.

As California birth injury lawyers dedicated to obtaining justice for families whose lives have been affected by medical malpractice, we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will take this matter under advisement and change the laws to protect military mothers and children affected by this doctrine.

For more information, or if you or a loved one has suffered a birth injury as the result of medical negligence, please contact the dedicated California medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.


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