Prisoners can sue doctors for malpractice, active duty military cannot

8 On Your Side

Lawyer claims Feres Doctrine discriminates against America's military heroes

He fought in the War on Terror, but this Green Beret found out, he doesn’t have the same right to justice as those who sit behind bars.

Sgt. 1st Class Rich Stayskal is fighting terminal cancer and working hard to change a law many believe is unfair. The law, known as the Feres Doctrine, prohibits active-duty personnel from suing military doctors for malpractice.

Army doctors failed to inform Sgt. Rich Stayskal of a spot on his lung.

Rich is fighting stage 4 lung cancer. Army doctors failed to notify him about a spot on his lung.

“They told me they’d call me if they saw something. Nobody ever called me when they saw something, so I never knew about it,” Sgt. Stayskal explained.

Doctors now tell Rich the cancer is terminal.

Rich Stayskal has enlisted the help of Vice-President Pence to change the law.

He and his family are in Washington, D.C. meeting with U.S. Senators, trying to convince them to change the law that prevents military personnel from holding doctors accountable.

“Just because I’m putting on that uniform and so many others are, to say well you’re banned or barred from this right just because of that it’s definitely disheartening,” Sgt. Stayskal added.

Rich Stayskal with his family and attorney Natalie Khawam

His attorney Natalie Khawam points out, even convicts have the right to sue prison doctors for malpractice.

“Why should they have more rights than a man or woman who proudly served our country? Makes no sense, it’s not fair, it’s unjust,” attorney Khawam said.

Rich Stayskal is an American hero. As a Marine, he was deployed to Iraq. A sniper’s bullet in Ramadi severely wounded him. After the Marines, he enlisted in the Army. Doctors documented a spot on his lung but failed to tell him. Rich can’t hold them accountable.

In April, Congressman Charlie Crist (D) Florida, introduced a bill to change that.

The House passed the “Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019.”

Rich is now meeting with Senators, like Rick Scott (R)-Florida.

“I want to listen to him and see how I can be helpful,” Senator Scott stated.

Rich hopes his story will bring about change. If not…

“His wife and his children will not be taken care of, they will not be protected because he has no legal recourse now to pursue that,” attorney Khawam said.

If you know of something you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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