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US Laws prevent family members suing the Military

SUMMARY: Jonathan Ritchie, husband of an active service member, has unsuccessfully sued the military for medical negligence. Pregnant January Ritchie was serving in Hawaii during 2006 when medical practitioners advised her to limit physical activity in order to reduce the risk of miscarriage. Ritchie’s chain of command however directed her to perform her regular duties, which included standing for long hours and physical training. Ritchie went into premature labor and lost her baby soon after his birth. The federal court upheld the Feres doctrine, which prevents active duty troops from claiming damages for any action related to their military service, even though January’s husband Jonathan brought the claim. This narrative has become all too familiar. A pentagon review of the military health system has shown that the average rate of injuries to babies during delivery in military hospitals between 2010 and 2013 are twice the national average. This is a worrying trend; especially since a 1950s precedent is ‘just another way for the government to not be held accountable for the actions of the people who have been hired by the federal government,’ according to National Commander for Women’s Veteran’s of America Mary Ross.

SOURCE: Patricia Kime, July 5 2015, ‘Law prevents some family members from suing the military,’ Military Times, http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/benefits/health-care/2015/07/05/feres-doctrine-military-service-women-children/29570329/

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