Press releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 today to allow active duty service members to sue the military for medical malpractice and negligence.

A Supreme Court decision in 1950 banned active duty service members from suing the military for medical malpractice or negligence, and this decision became known as the Feres Doctrine. This legislation will help overturn that decision.

Sgt. Richard Stayskal is the primary champion of this legislation.  In two separate appointments, Army doctors detected a cancerous tumor growing in Sgt. Stayskal’s lungs, but they did not initiate the proper treatment or make him aware of the tumor’s existence.  Under the Feres Doctrine, he cannot sue the military hospital that failed to inform him of his condition for medical malpractice.

 “We owe service men and women our utmost respect and the best care when they come home.  When medical malpractice or negligence occurs, patients have the right to sue their doctor, but the Feres Doctrine has stripped that right from members of the military.  This is an awful precedent, and I’m very grateful to Sgt. Richard Stayskal for bringing this issue to light,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This legislation will help to overturn this backwards precedent that hurts service members and their families.”

“For decades, the so-called Feres doctrine has denied our servicemembers their day in court when they are the victims of medical malpractice. It is slap in the face to the men and women who serve our country,” said Sen. Hirono. “The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 will finally remove this stain on our country’s treatment of those in uniform. I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Senator Kennedy, and I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this long-overdue bill.”

“Thank you Senator Kennedy for introducing the SFC Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act,” said Sgt. Stayskal. “May your leadership inspire other members of Congress to support this important legislation.  Sponsoring this Bill proves your support of our Troops and their families.”