Supreme Court Brief of Amici Curiae on Petition for Writ of Certiorari in Support of Petitioner, Ortiz v. U.S. ex rel. Evans Army Community Hospital, No. 15-488 (Nov. 17, 2015)
16 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 17, 2016
This is an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear the case of U.S. Air Force Major Heather Ortiz and her baby, who were denied legal remedies for obstetric malpractice by military doctors that left the baby with severe brain damage. The case is No. 15-488, Ortiz v. U.S. ex rel. Evans Army Community Hospital. Professors Fox and Stein urge the Court to overturn the Tenth Circuit’s holding that the federal government’s immunity against liability for intramilitary torts extends to wrongful injuries like those sustained by Major Ortiz’s baby. They argue that this holding misinterprets the immunity, misapplies the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and constitutes no less than unconstitutional sex discrimination. Fox and Stein explain:
"When a civilian spouse of a serviceman receives negligent prenatal care from military doctors and delivers an injured baby as a result of that malpractice, there is no question that Feres immunity does not apply and that the baby can sue the United States under the FTCA. When military medical malpractice injures the baby of a servicewoman, this baby should be equally able to obtain redress under the FTCA. A system that would single out the civilian children of servicewomen for adverse treatment discriminates against women who serve in the armed forces.... To interpret the FTCA as the Tenth Circuit did permits discrimination between these two classes of similarly situated victims of military malpractice and violates fundamental principles of equal protection."
Keywords: Feres immunity, military torts, prenatal injuries, Federal Tort Claims Act
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