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Supreme Court can make a difference where military families matter

The America’s Heroes Group radio talk show started the new year off with a compelling follow up interview to a story that was recently printed in the Chicago Crusader newspaper.

The broadcast subject matter was so monumental, radio personality talk show host Cliff Kelley had to ask his regular listening audience not to call into the live broadcast.

What listeners learned is there was a time when members of the Armed Forces or a veteran could bring a suit against the government. Today, that is not the case and the consequences can be devastating for families, especially in the area of medical malpractice.

It is the Feres doctrine that prevents military members and, in some cases, civilians from exercising their constitutional right to seek redress for grievances. Kelley said, “With this case coming to light, it brings to awareness the lack of rights that military personnel and veterans have when trying to sue the government for medical negligence.”

It allows military hospitals and doctors to escape scrutiny for negligent care.

In the case of Walter Daniels, he is petitioning the United States Supreme Court to overturn a portion of the Feres doctrine, allowing him to learn what led to the tragic death of his wife Navy Lieutenant Rebekah “Moani” Daniel following childbirth at a Naval hospital in 2014.

Their story may soon be heard by The U.S. Supreme Court.

We filed a petition. The Solicitor General of the United States, who is the person appointed to represent the federal government of the United States before the Supreme Court of the United States, had a month to respond. Hoyal said they did what they always do—not respond unless made to do so, but this time the court did a Call For Response (CFR). A CFR raises your odds considerably in getting the petition granted.

“So now we are waiting on the response from the Solicitator General. We haven’t received it yet, but we will at some point because they are required to respond now.

“When Walt came into our office and told the story about his wife, it was as though the partners said this is just too much. A young healthy woman should not die in childbirth in 2014.”

The firm didn’t even know what the problem was, but they knew this was not right.

“So rather than just telling Walter, ‘sorry the Feres doctrine bars it’ the Luvera Law Firm decided to investigate the case. “We were able to get the medical records and we filed a complaint.”

They explained to Daniel the facts straight out, “There’s a precedence from 1950 that keeps us from filing this lawsuit.”

There is a thing called a Federal Tort Claims Act. It permits suits against the government. It doesn’t prohibit these kinds of suits, but the United States Supreme Court in 1950 issued a ruling that said even in medical malpractice cases and other kinds of cases, if it’s an “incident of service” we are going to bar the suit. It wasn’t in the statute but it’s a Supreme Court Ruling. That has been the ruling going on 69 years now.

We are waiting for the March decision whether the Supreme Court will hear the case.

Before March the Americas Heroes Group as a follow up is inviting Walter Daniels, his attorney, Andrew Hoyal, and the Kaiser Health News journalist, JoNel Aleccia, back on the show to hear if the Supreme Court has agreed to hear their case.

His case has the potential to restore the legal rights of service members and their families to hold the military healthcare system accountable for medical errors.

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