Daniel v. United States, No. 16-35203 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's tort action against the United States for the tragic death of his wife. Plaintiff's wife was a lieutenant in the Navy and she died due to a complication following childbirth. The panel held that plaintiff's medical malpractice claims were barred under the Feres doctrine, which provided governmental immunity from tort claims involving injuries to service members that were incident to military service.
Court Description: Feres Doctrine The panel affirmed the district court’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) dismissal of plaintiff’s tort action brought against the United States for the tragic death of his wife, who was serving in the Navy, as barred by the jurisdictional bar recognized in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135 (1950). The Federal Tort Claims Act effected a broad waiver of sovereign immunity, rendering the United States liable for the tortious acts of its employees as a private individual would be under like circumstances. The Feres doctrine limits the Act’s waiver of sovereign immunity, and provides governmental immunity from tort claims involving injuries to service members that were “incident to military service.” The panel followed the holding in Atkinson v. United States, 825 F.2d 202 (9th Cir. 1987), which similarly involved medical treatment of an active duty service person at a domestic military hospital for a condition of pregnancy unrelated to military service. The panel concluded that plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims were barred by the Feres doctrine.