top of page

Active Duty Personnel Fighting to Close Unfair Loophole Caused by Feres Doctrine

Birth defect claims are some of the toughest cases we handle.  But helping clients get the compensation necessary to help their newborn child is some of the most rewarding work we do.

Sadly, there is a loophole in the law that is devastating for families where one of the parents is active duty.

This loophole, called the “Feres doctrine,” comes from the United States Supreme Court case Feres v. United States in which the high court officially barred active duty members of the Armed Forces from seeking compensation for medical malpractice under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

In plain English that means, for example, that the parents of a baby born with birth defects caused by poor medical care are simply out of luck if mom or dad happens to be active duty.

But, one mother and father are standing up and trying to close this outdated loophole.

Jorge and Heather Ortiz’s daughter, Isabella, was born with brain damage as a result of screw ups by Heather’s doctors while she was in labor at the Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colorado.  During labor, the doctors gave Heather medication that they knew she was allergic to.  To counteract the allergic reaction, the doctors gave Heather another medication, which caused her blood pressure to drop and which consequently cut off Isabella’s oxygen supply, resulting in permanent brain damage.

Under any other circumstances, Jorge and Heather would have a strong case for medical malpractice to seek the compensation needed to help Isabella deal with the challenges she’ll face for the rest of her life, such as brain and nerve damage and difficulty walking.  But, there’s an unfortunate catch:  Heather was an active duty Captain in the Air Force when she gave birth to Isabella.  And, under the Feres doctrine, that means she, Jorge—and most importantly, Isabella—are left without any options.

Now, Jorge and Heather have appealed their case to the United State Supreme Court and are asking the Court to overturn the outmoded Feres doctrine and close the loophole that unfairly treats active duty members of the Armed Forces.

The Ortiz family has an uphill battle.  The Supreme Court first has to agree to hear the case and then the Ortiz’s lawyers have to convince the Court to overturn nearly 70 years of legal precedent.  This case represents what is so misguided about the Feresdoctrine and has the potential to become landmark legal precedent.  We will continue to follow the appeal and we’ll be sure to provide updates here.


bottom of page