Home National News Bill to Expand Military Servicemembers’ Rights to File Claims for Medical Malpractice Introduced

Bill to Expand Military Servicemembers’ Rights to File Claims for Medical Malpractice Introduced

Press Release

by ECT

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, introduced the Seaman Danyelle Luckey Military Medical Accountability Amendment Act of 2022 with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), who represents the family of Seaman Luckey in Congress.

Their legislation expands on Rep. Speier’s Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability of 2019, much of which was included in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act and which established a medical malpractice claims process for military servicemembers who had previously been barred from seeking justice by the Feres doctrine, established in 1950 by a Supreme Court decision.

Though the Stayskal Act finally allowed servicemembers and their families to seek compensation for noncombat injuries incurred at military medical facilities, it did not cover medical care provided aboard ships’ clinics, operating rooms, or intensive care units. The Danyelle Luckey Act – named for U.S. Navy Sailor Danyelle Luckey, who died of sepsis aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in 2016 after the ship’s medical staff failed to diagnose and treat her appropriately – expands the rights of servicemembers and their families to file medical malpractice claims stemming from botched care and medical negligence onboard vessels large enough to have substantial medical capabilities, such as aircraft carriers and amphibious ships.

“I have spoken many times with the family of Seaman Danyelle Luckey, a strong, smart, and dedicated young woman who dreamed of serving her country, and whose dream ended on board the USS Ronald Reagan when she was killed by gross medical negligence, which could have been prevented by a simple regimen of antibiotics. The excruciating pain and crippling fear she endured in her final days are equaled only by the profound devastation and horrific suffering of her family. Her death was a travesty, equaled only by the travesty of justice denied to her loved ones simply because of where she died,” Rep. Speier said. “While the Danyelle Luckey Act cannot bring back the hope, promise, and purpose of Danyelle’s vibrant, young life, it can provide her family and other servicemembers like her with the right to seek compensation in cases of medical malpractice aboard large vessels. This is the very least we can do for the brave women and men willing to put their lives on the line for our freedoms, and I urge my colleagues in the House to quickly take up and pass this legislation.”

“Danyelle Luckey selflessly and bravely signed up to serve her country, a decision that, due to flagrant medical malpractice aboard a Navy ship, cost her life. The pain the Luckey family has endured from the tragic loss of their daughter is unimaginable and exacerbated by the fact that a misinterpretation of the law has prevented them from pursuing justice,” Rep. DeSaulnier said. “I am proud to join Congresswoman Speier in the fight to right this wrong through new legislation on behalf of the Luckey family whom I am honored to represent in Congress. We must pass this bill to ensure no other family experiences their same pain and to bring justice for Danyelle.”

“Six years ago in October, our hearts were ripped out and torn apart when our daughter Danyelle Ashely Luckey died from military medical malpractice on board the USS Ronald Reagan. Adding to our heartache, we were not allowed to pursue a claim for this maltreatment because ‘technically’ a medical treatment facility on the naval vessel is not legally considered a military medical treatment facility. That is wrong, and this legislation corrects that wrong and allows victims and their families to pursue a claim against the Navy when they have been mistreated on board a ship, defining a navy ship’s medical facility as a military medical treatment facility for purposes of pursuing a claim,” the Luckey family said. “It is bad enough that we each day suffer the pain of her loss, and our beautiful daughter will never have the full life she deserved. We ask that this legislation be adopted in her memory so that other service members won’t suffer the same wrong that she and we have suffered.”

For a copy of the bill text, click here.

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