- THE FERES DOCTRINE AND THE FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT September 08 2014, 0 Comments
In 1950, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Feres v. United States; a collection of three cases seeking to hold the military accountable for acts of negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
While the plaintiffs were service members, the circumstances giving rise to their claims—a building fire caused by a defective heater, and two instances of botched surgical procedures—bore no relationship to actual military duties, and were effectively interchangeable with those yielding recovery for countless civilians. As such, they stood in stark contrast to the claims expressly barred by the Act: those “arising out of the combatant activities of the military…during time of war.”
Despite these clearly circumscribed statutory terms, the Feres Court translated the Act far more broadly, to bar all injuries that “arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.” A result that has, to date, led to a a widely held theory by the Federal Courts of intra-military immunity for any civil claim at all.