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Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019

The Sfc. Richard Stayskal Military Medical
Accountability Act of 2019 (Stayskal Act) allows suit
against the United States for injuries and deaths of
members of the Armed Forces caused by improper
medical care, and for other purposes.

• Since 1950, the Feres Doctrine has prevented our
servicemembers and their families from seeking
justice after becoming victims of medical

• Born out of a desire to protect the Department of
Defense from being sued for incidents related to
military service, Feres has instead been twisted to
prevent servicemembers from filing any negligence
claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

• This means that an active duty servicemember
and her non-military spouse could be misdiagnosed
for the same condition in the same military hospital,
but only the spouse would have the right to sue.

• Nearly every other American—civilian, federal
employee, or prisoner—has the right to sue the
government for medical malpractice and other forms
of negligence, but not servicemembers. By not
allowing servicemembers to sue for medical
malpractice, Feres denies servicemembers justice.

• They are denied their day in court and denied a
chance to be awarded compensatory damages not
just DOD benefits to offset the substantial costs of

• Feres also disincentivizes needed change in the
military healthcare system. The threat of lawsuits
would instead encourage reforms and added
vigilance from providers.

• There are thousands if not tens of thousands of
examples of servicemembers suffering from medical
malpractice since 1950 and being denied the right to
have their claims heard in court.

• The recent cases of Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st
Class Richard Stayskal—whose misdiagnosis by
military doctors allowed his cancer to spread until it
became terminal— and Navy Lt. Rebekah Daniel
who died from blood loss after giving birth in a
military hospital, powerfully illustrate the injustice of
preventing servicemembers from filing medical
malpractice claims.

The Solution:
• The Stayskal Act will address the injustice to
servicemembers created by the Feres doctrine by
creating an exemption allowing for servicemembers
and their families to file medical malpractice suits
under the FTCA.

• The bill would only cover cases that are still pending
on or occur after the implementation date, limiting
the potential cost of the measure.

• Additionally, the Stayskal Act would not impact
combat operations, as servicemembers would only
be allowed to sue for malpractice that occurs by
medical providers at major military clinics and
hospitals, not in combat, on ships, or at battalion
aid stations.

• Servicemember suits would still be constrained by
the FTCA, which awards no compensatory damages
and caps attorneys’ fees, and the government could
still defend its actions using the discretionary
function exemption.

See also: ew 2020 Military Pay Charts >
information about the Stayskal Act