SCOTUS to review whether military members may bring medical malpractice claims against military physicians

SCOTUS to review whether military members may bring medical malpractice claims against military physicians

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Levin v. United States, in which the court attempted to answer whether the Gonzales Act waived the federal government's sovereign immunity in cases of alleged battery.

Levin is a veteran who was referred to an ophthalmologist for cataract surgery; Levin claims he recanted his consent just prior to the surgery, but the military surgeon conducted it anyway, resulting in injuries; his prayer for relief was initially rejected over the government's sovereign immunity that, although expressly waived for many intentional torts under the FTCA, battery is expressly excluded. Levin argued, however, that the subsequently passed Gonzales Act sought to waive the government's immunity from intentional battery claims.

The court is not expected to present a formal opinion for several weeks, but it appears from the questioning that the court believes the Gonzales Act does what the plaintiff describes and permits suits for the international tort of battery against federal employees.

Citations: Levin v. United States, 663 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2011)

Categories: Supreme Court
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