In the beginning of June the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for the United States that will have a large impact on certain military families. The case, Ortiz v. United States, affirmed that a birth injury claim should be dismissed as it fell under the “Feres doctrine”. This is a decision that makes it all the more imperative that military personnel consult with a birth injury lawyer if their baby is hurt during the course of labor and delivery.
The Facts of the Case
The lawsuit was brought about by a member of the US armed forces whose pregnant wife was treated at an Army hospital. Complications arising from her admission after she was given medications that caused her to have an allergic reaction. The newborn suffered from a lack of oxygen so severe that permanent brain damage occurred.
The suit was filed against the United States government, asking to be compensated for the injury, and the cost of future medical and life-care needs. The decision made by the appellate court now blocks this case from ever going to trial, citing that the government is immune from being sued by service members for an injury that is incident to that service.
What is the Feres Doctrine?
The Feres Doctrine is meant to protect the US government and its personnel from being held responsible for the accidental death of a military service agent while in combat. This is meant to ensure that the government is not held liable for any injury related to military service. With this most recent ruling however, it would seem that the Feres doctrine is now applicable towards the family members of a military service person and any implication towards the military’s judgment or decision.
According to the court, they were bound by precedent in their decision, with no authority to override the Feres doctrine. However, it would seem that they do have the power to expand upon it as the circumstances suit.
The Birth Injury Suit
In most cases, doctors, nurses and other medical staff are responsible for the injury to a newborn if that injury could have been prevented. If they are active members of the military however, there is a chance that the case will never even be heard. If you are questioning whether you and your child are entitled to compensation, you should first speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Although most government agencies are immune from lawsuits being filed against them, this could be overlooked if the negligent act was particularly egregious.