Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) recently filed a bill named after Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal to give future soldiers on active duty the right to sue for medical malpractice.
Sergeant Stayskal was misdiagnosed with pneumonia, when it was really stage four cancer, causing quite a bit of controversy. The reasons behind this controversy and other cases like it can be found under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
According to this law, which has been in place since 1950, the United States isn’t liable for injuries sustained to members of the armed forces while on active duty.
This isn’t the first time an active military member has tried suing the government and failed, which is one reason why Sergeant Stayskal has decided to fight this issue.
According to Fox News, he says this fight isn’t about money, but about fairness.
“I can’t put a number of my life. There isn’t an amount. I think my kids would pay you money to get my life back,” Stayskal told lawmakers.
Many critics agree, especially considering the fact that inmates have the right to sue for medical malpractice. Only if you’re a veteran or civilian working for the military can you legally sue the U.S. government.
The Tort Claims Act was put into place for a few reasons, the primary one being that it gives district courts the power to examine claims made by those on active duty and releasing that burden from Congress.
No additional action takes place other than the district courts determining if any claims made are valid under the current law and accepting private liability on behalf of the U.S. government.
Rep. Speier is hopeful that the bill will pass and give others the right that Sgt. Stayskal will never have, but there’s a lot more work to do until that becomes a reality.