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Ben Glass
Ben Glass
Attorney • (703) 584-7277

No Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Military

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An article in the Honolulu Advertiser discusses the case of an Army Staff Sgt. who underwent surgery for acid reflux disease. Unfortunately the surgeon severed two nerves, and now half of the soldier’s diaphragm is paralyzed.

The article tells the tale of Army Staff Sgt. Michael McClaran:

“The severed nerves affected Michael McClaran’s respiratory and digestive systems. As a result, he has trouble digesting food and experiences shortness of breath if he eats even moderate amounts or does moderate exercise.”

However, McClaran cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit because he is active-duty military. This is due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1950, known as the Feres Doctrine. The doctrine prevents military personnel “from suing the U.S. government for injuries ‘incident to service,’ even if gross negligence was the cause.”

The article sites several instances in which a member of the military was barred from filing a malpractice claim, including an occasion where a Virginia doctor left a 30-inch long towel inside a soldier during gall bladder surgery.

Read the full medical malpractice article.