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Overturn Of Feres Doctrine Would Allow Military Malpractice Lawsuit

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, October 09, 2009 11:27 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Feres Doctrine, Military, Medical Malpractice, Melanoma

The House and Senate are considering legislation that would overturn the Feres Doctrine, that prevents military personnel for suing for medical malpractice.
Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez, CBS News


IMAGE SOURCE: CBS News Web site/ Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez

Died Before He Could Tell Story

Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez wanted to talk to CBS News last February about the melanoma the military had diagnosed in 1997 but never recommended a follow-up.

When he finally had what the military on several occasions had written off as a “wart” diagnosed in 2006, it was stage 4 melanoma.

The 29-year old had invited CBS News to his New York home to talk about the military immunity known as the Feres Decision that bars military personnel from suing over medical malpractice. Military personnel and their families lose that right that U.S. civilians enjoy, even though they have been fighting for America in a foreign land.

Whittled down to 80 pounds, Sgt. Rodriguez died as the CBS newsman came to tell his story.

Now in a move to reverse the controversial 59-year old Supreme Court ruling, the House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill to repeal the Feres Doctrine.

The 14-12 vote Wednesday for the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act (H.R. 1478/ S. 1347), sponsored by Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), was sent to the full House where the bill stands a good chance of being approved.

In 1950, the Court ruling prevented active duty military personnel from suing the government for malpractice, regardless of where the malpractice occurred. The bill approved this week would continue to ban battlefield injury claims but would allow lawsuits for non-combat injuries such as the misdiagnosis suffered by Sgt. Rodriguez.

"This bill benefits trial lawyers, not service members,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who supported a move to further limit fees for lawyers representing potential plaintiffs.

Republicans say the bill will boost health care costs by $2.9 billion over the next 30 years even though it would not extend protections to non-military dependants.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-NY, whose subcommittee backed the bill, said eliminating the lawsuit ban was a question of fundamental fairness.

Urging defeat of an amendment to strip the bill and instead refer the issue for a further study, Cohen said, "We've had 60 years to study it."

Rep. Dan Lundgren, R-CA, citing all the calls for health care reform, said the panel was squandering an opportunity to address the issue head-on.

"We're just adding the military to a system that is so screwed up," reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The American Association for Justice says the legislation would also help Army Colonel Adele Connell, who had 16 lymph nodes removed from the wrong breast during surgery by military doctors. Today she suffers from a burning sensation down her right arm and has no legal recourse against the government. #


Anonymous User
Posted by Steve Lombardi
Friday, October 09, 2009 1:48 PM EST

These are very interesting issues that are not very easily resolved. How do you run a military operation when soldiers can sue vs. treating servicemen and women fair and with dignity? This may be one for the philosophers to wrangle.

Anonymous User
Posted by Ed Fremer
Thursday, October 15, 2009 12:13 PM EST

I am happy to read the House Judiciary committee showed some common sense and passed the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability act of 2009 by a 14 to 12 vote. We do not know what will happen next as it seems some Republicans are against this Bill.
They claim it will raise the cost of Military medical care. It seems with a Democratic in the White house all of the sudden the Republicans care about the Federal budget costs more then the care of the Americans in the Military.

Please read the On-Line and read the horror stories in the comments field.




Anonymous User
Posted by Fremer
Friday, October 16, 2009 10:47 AM EST

Please Read The following Feres Doctrine horror stories:
LINK ,1,1017802.story

Posted by erniesfootprints.com
Thursday, November 05, 2009 11:01 PM EST

Time sensitive: Please forward this e-mail to everyone you know!

Remembering the meaning of Veterans Day. Remembering our Soldiers.
Remembering the People.

As Veterans Day approaches, November 11, 2009, for some it's a day of honor, for others it's just a day off from work, and for many businesses a veterans day sale! It is, in fact, a day of remembrance. One honoring all those who have fought and died for our country, and for showing gratitude and respect for those who are currently fighting and dying for our country. Those people are your fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, relatives, somebody you know or even yourself.

You are receiving this letter because we know that you are going to act on it and to do the right thing in response.

U.S. Military Health Care has a law called the Feres Doctrine that does not allow military doctors to be held accountable for negligent care. That means that if you or a loved one is seriously injured because of military medical malpractice that you are pretty much S.O.L.!

NY Congressman Hinchey's Bill; The Carmelo Rodriguez Military Malpractice Accountability Act of 2009 H.R. 1478 and NY Senator Schumer's sister bill S. 1347 will change that! These Bills have a great chance of being voted into law very soon, but only if everyone of us tells our congressmen and senators that we, their respective constituents insist that they at the very least vote in favor of these bills or better still become cosponsors of the bills. That's all you have to do! LET THEM KNOW NOW that you support the bills too!

We've made it so easy for you to follow through. Here's how.

1. Attached to this email, you will find The Veterans Day Proposal and a Petition for all of you to sign. Have everyone you know sign it too.
We would like to collect as many signed petitions by the 25th of November, so please hurry. Even if you don't live in Oregon, send your petition to us and we can get it to the right place.

2. Also please CALL your senators and congressman and have everyone you know do so as well on Veterans Day. Let them know where you stand on this issue! There is information on finding your Congressmen in The Veterans Day Proposal.

3. Please PASS this email onto your friends and families. We need to make and impact on November 11, 2009

4. Please visit LINK for updates and additional information.

Thank you for making Veterans Day 2009 the day you can truly say "I supported the troops!" "I supported our veterans!" "I support the lives of people I care about!"

If you have any questions and want to speak to someone directly, simply call us at

Anonymous User
Posted by Kim Kilmon
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 1:34 AM EST

I lost my husband to Malignant Melanoma in December of 2003. Chuck Kilmon was stationed at Fort Whuachuca Arizona when he was 22 years old. He had a mole on his left clavicle, which was removed by an Army military Doctor. Whoever wrote the pathology report said it was benign. One year later while still in the Army, chuck grew a baseball sized tumor under his armpit. It was removed and he was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. They gave him less than six months.

Chuck tried to sue for medical malpractice but was denied his claim due to the Feres Doctrine. He continued to serve in the Army for six more years when he got news of another mass in his lung. It was removed and he was treated with Interferone and Interlukine chemotherapy.Then he was placed on 100% dissabilty retirement in 1997. I met chuck in 2001 and what a beautiful human being he was! Would have never known he had skin Caner by the looks of him.

In march of 2003 we discovered i was pregnant and was due in December. Two weeks after we learned of my pregnancy, Chuck received a phone call from Dr. Nacy at Veterans Hospital Long Beach that the cancer had aggressively metastasized and spread to his liver and bowels. Our future looked grim. Chuck received different chemotherapy treatments like Multi-Agent Bio-Chemotherapy. Nothing worked.

December 11th, I realized that if I didn't do something then Chuck wouldn't get to see his little girl before he died. So i induced labor and Charlene Kilmon was born December 12th. Chuck held her with what little strength he had left and I saw in his eyes he was thankful and was tired of suffering. I was terribly sick with 6 days no sleep and our daughter had jaundice. We needed to be home with chuck who was now on hospice. Four days after the birth of Charlene, Chuck died. He was 31 years old, and I was 20 years old. I felt so alone and scared from that moment on. How was i supposed to keep myself together with all these emotions wrapped around me. I didn't want to let go of chuck but i didn't want to see him suffer anymore. He went from 260 lbs, 6ft7" down to 160lbs, so skinny just bones for such a tall man he was unrecognizable to many.
I was so ANGRY at the Army medical personel for making the simple mistake of misdiagnosing him. How could this have happened in the first place. I have the actual mole, specimen on glass slides that show clearly without a microscope the malignant cells, which are purple from the regular cells which were pinkish. How could a medical doctor have missed this?
I have finally accepted what has been done. I cannot bring him back but i wish i could bring him justice.
My daughter asks me why she doesn't have a daddy like the other boys and girls in her kindergarten class. How do you explain to a five year old what cancer is? She has so many questions for me and i wish i had the right answers. It causes great anxiety still.
I wish military Doctors would give better quality of care to all of our veterans! They deserve it the most.
So much more happened in between but it's to much to put down right now.
I hope some for of justice for these veterans and their families will come. At the very least, and improvement for all military personel in quality of health care.
~Kim Kilmon

Anonymous User
Posted by Kim Kilmon
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 1:41 AM EST

I want to leave my email if anyone would like to comment. Pfloyd10@roadrunner.com

Comments for this article are closed.

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