The Feres doctrine

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is the statute by which the United States authorizes tort suits to be brought against itself. As a result of the common law doctrine of sovereign immunity, "the United States cannot be sued without its consent." Congress alone has the power to waive or qualify that immunity. 

By enacting the FTCA in 1946, Congress waived sovereign immunity for some tort suits. The FTCA makes the United States liable for the torts of its employees to the extent that private employers are liable under state law (specifically, the law of the state where the tort occurs) for the torts of their employees. 

The FTCA, however, contains exceptions under which the United States may not be held liable even though a private employer could be held liable under state law. Among these exceptions is the Feres doctrine, which resulted from a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the FTCA prohibits suits by military personnel for injuries sustained incident to service.

Illegal immigrants are allowed to sue for medical malpractice. 
Even inmates have the right to sue for medical malpractice under federal and state law. "To run professional facilities and operate both ethically and legally, correctional administrators, custodial officers, and correctional health care staff must be aware of the legal duties owed to prisoners with respect to the quality and type of medical care mandated by the courts, accreditation agencies, and the medical profession itself." (Vaughn, M.S., & Collins, S.C. (2004). "Medical Malpractice in Correctional Facilities: State Tort Remedies for Inappropriate and Inadequate Health Care Administered to Prisoners." Prison Journal, 84, 505-534.) 

When the legal duties "owed to prisoners" is superior to the legal duties owed to our service members, our laws no longer serve the purpose for which they were intended.


"Feres was wrongly decided and heartily deserves the 'widespread, almost universal criticism' it has received."
Justice Antonin Scalia