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Battle over Military Malpractice Lawsuits Continues (Video)

Staff Sgt. Dean Witt
Everlasting Memorial
Staff Sgt. Dean Witt

The U.S. Supreme court refused to hear the case of Witt v. United States yesterday, seemingly ensuring that the Feres Doctrine would remain the law of the land. The Feres Doctrine, established by the Supreme Court in 1950, forbids servicemembers from suing military doctors for malpractice. The family of Staff Sgt. Dean Witt had sued the government on his behalf after doctors at Travis Air Force base botched his appendectomy so badly that Witt ended up in a vegetative state and later died. He was 25-years-old.

But now a new bill is keeping the controversy alive. The Associated Press reports U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey plans to introduce legislation that would allow members of the military to sue for malpractice. This isn't the first legislative effort, however, to change the Feres Doctrine:

Indeed, according to the the Congressional Budget Office, opening up the military to malpractice lawsuits would cost the government an average of $135 million every year in claims.


Here's a report from ABC7 filed back in 2010 about Dean Witt and his family: