Protect Our Soldiers and Vets from Negligent Medical Care: Amend the Feres Doctrine

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This petition is brought by Natalie Khawam, Esq., MBA, MS of the Whistleblower Law Firm, PA, 400 N. Tampa Street, Suite #1015, Tampa, Florida 33602.  Office: (813) 944-7853  Cell: (813)625-2820. Her firm has brought a lawsuit on Sfc. Stayskal's behalf.

Petition to Congress to Amend the Federal Tort Claims Act

To the Honorable Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate:

We, the undersigned, join together in respectfully urging you to enact legislation to amend the Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. Chapter 171) to allow our soldiers to have a right to pursue medical malpractice claims just like every other American. 

The Feres Doctrine is an outdated exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act that arose from a 1950 Supreme Court decision that bars claims for “injuries arising out of or [occur] in the course of activit[ies] incident to service”. Feres v. United States 340 U.S. 135. This law prohibits service members and their families from bringing medical malpractice and wrongful death claims against military hospitals responsible for serious injuries and deaths. 

The decision that created the Feres Doctrine ignores the plain language of the Federal Tort Claims Act and has led to profoundly unjust results.  Military medical now hide behind the Feres Doctrine when their personnel fail to provide the basic care that could save a person’s life.  Why should soldiers be denied recourse just because they are on active duty if they are injured or killed while getting ordinary (non-combat-related) medical care?

Sgt. First Class (SFC) Richard Stayskal’s story is the perfect example of the inequality our service members and their families encounter due to the Feres Doctrine. You can read more about his story here.  Stayskal and his lawyers believe that a result of Fort Bragg Womack Army Medical Center’s alleged failure to notify SFC Stayskal of the existence of a tumor and promptly treat it, this 36-year old U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret, hero, loving husband and father of two, now has untreatable stage-four metastatic cancer.  

Four months after his January 2017 CT scan that is reported to have revealed the existence of a mass that should have been tested, SFC Stayskal was rushed to Womack’s Medical Center after exhibiting severe respiratory issues, including coughing up blood. There, his lawyers allege, Stayskal was told the military’s doctors conducted a retrospective review of his January CT scan and noted an abnormality that needed attention and advised a biopsy be taken.

Instead of informing SFC Stayskal of this or expediting a pulmonary follow-up appointment, Stayskal reports that Womack discharged him telling him he had pneumonia. After being told that he would have to wait at least one month to see a pulmonologist on base, SFC Stayskal says he was finally approved to see a civilian doctor in June 2017 and have a new CT scan taken. It was at that time that he and his family finally learned the tragic news.

Stayskal and his legal team allege the failure of the military’s doctor’s to detect and treat SFC Stayskal’s cancer when they took his first CT scan in January 2017 is the mistake that allowed the aggressive tumor to double in size and metastasize. And now SFC Stayskal and his family have no recourse due to the Feres Doctrine.  Absent a miracle, Sfc Stayskal's family will soon be left alone, to fend for themselves.

This is a critically important issue to the military and Veteran communities. We need Congressional intervention to change this unfair doctrine that has stripped hundreds of service members and their families of the same rights that all other citizens of our Country have when it comes to medical malpractice.  Without a change, military hospitals have no incentive to improve their practices and discharge unqualified doctors.  Help our soldiers get quality care.  Please support this petition.

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Please also consider contributing to a GoFundMe fund for Sfc. Richard Stayskal's daughters by clicking here.  Richard was an American hero.  His daughters will forever appreciate your support.



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