The Legacy of Feres: Marine Dies in Latest Act of Military Malpractice

In the civilian system, a case of misdiagnosis is a simple material of medical malpractice for which the victim or his victim can recover. In the military, it is even simpler: it is malpractice for which there is no legal recourse. That is the sad lesson being learned by the family of Carmelo Rodriguez, a Marine and combat veteran who died of untreated cancer that could have been treated by relatively modest medical interventions. It is the result of the infamous Feres Doctrine, which continues to do untold harm to thousands of sailors and soldiers.

Under the Feres doctrine, military personnel are barred from using the government for injuries that occur in service — even in peacetime or cases of pure noncombat negligence. It is a creation of the Supreme Court and has been denounced by judges and legislators alike. Yet, Congress has refused to act. After all, giving legal rights to military personnel would be an expensive proposition. Right now, it is cheaper to maim and kill soldiers and sailors in acts of negligence. What employer would not relish such immunity?

For the purposes of full disclosure, I have been a critic of the Feres Doctrine for many years, including a long study on the flawed basis for its creation and its continuing harm for military personnel. Click here and here and here

In this most recent case, you have a once strong and physically robust Marine Platoon leader who served in Iraq. By the time he died this year, he was an 80-pound skeleton. The thing that killed him was an untreated skin cancer that was noted in his physical upon enlistment in 1997. The military doctor noted “melanoma on the right buttocks.” Yet, he was never told to about the finding and it was never treated for eight years until it was too late.

The question remains how long Congress will allow military personnel to be treated as bargain-basement victims of malpractice and other forms of negligence.

For the full story on this Marine, click here

8 thoughts on “The Legacy of Feres: Marine Dies in Latest Act of Military Malpractice

  1. Do you think any of the doctors who saw Carmelo Rodriguez and who, essentially, signed and sealed his death sentense, have seen any consequences? Methinks not.
    And since they have not, what would prevent them from killing another service man? With the government standing firmly behind them.

    Julie: Carmelo Rodtiguez DID go to the doctor when it was oozing and bleeding – that “doctor” told him it was a wart.

  2. Okay, So I understand that the original doctor should have been the one to have told the patient about his diease, but what about the other doctors who provide yearly physicals for deployment readiness? It is unlikely for that many doctors to miss something that is so discomforting such as this. In addition to the that the patient has all the opportunity to express any concerns he or she may have which includes adnormal findings. It is somewhat hard for me to understand how a marine can go seven years with an obvious discomfort that oozes and bleeds with out mentioning the problem to any medical provider.

  3. … “The thing that killed him was an untreated skin cancer that was noted in his physical upon enlistment in 1997. The military doctor noted “melanoma on the right buttocks.” Yet, he was never told to about the finding and it was never treated for eight years until it was too late.”

    ‘Somebody’ dropped the ball big time – upon enlistment.

    A physical finding, without benefit of biopsy, of ‘melanoma’, alone, should have been enough to keep Rodriguez out of the Service as this deadly skin cancer, without a doubt, is always fatal when left untreated.

    If it’s not actionable malpractice, then it could very well be wrongful death.

  4. I try not to clog up the threads with my over-ripe offerings, but felt this topic begged for a response….from someone. So I will stand in for an outraged public……

    OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!

    Time for an oversight investigation and Congress needs some testimony on this to refresh their memories… JT, front and center! (if it comes to that)

    Seriously, I am surprised that the Congress, packed to the gunwhales as it is with worshippers at the Shrine of Our Heroic Servicemen (and I am one such ex-HS, so allow me my sarcasm), has not reacted to this news. So many congressmen profess unqualified devotion to our men and women in uniform, yet only a dead silence on this issue.

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