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Major Victory for Veterans and Their Families: U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Veterans Can Sue for Doctors Not Obtaining the Veteran’s Informed Consent to Treatment

Medical battery is the intentional violation of a patient’s right to direct their own medical treatments. For several years, the law has been unclear as to whether veterans can sue the federal government when a military doctor treats them without their informed consent. Many federal courts held that the federal government had sovereign immunity from such lawsuits and could not be sued. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Levin v. U.S., No. 11-1351 (U.S. Mar. 4, 2013), now allows those lawsuits to continue.

The Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) allows people to sue the government, but it allows for sovereign immunity for several intentional torts, including battery. After enacting the FTCA, Congress adopted several new statutes such as the Gonzalez Act, which provided that the FTCA’s exception for intentional torts “shall not apply to any cause of action arising out of a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the performance of medical, dental, or related health care functions.” The U.S. Supreme Court in Levin v. U.S. found that this language allows a veteran’s medical battery (informed consent) case to continue and not be subject to sovereign immunity.

The Levin v. U.S. case from the Supreme Court is a victory for veterans. Now, veterans who are victims of medical battery can have their day in court. Veterans have a right to understand and consent to their medical procedures.

At the Law Offices of Michael L. Neff, P.C., we have a team of experienced attorneys who assist military veterans and their families in cases under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). Our team is proud to serve veterans and the brave men and women of our armed services.