On March 25, 2007, U.S. Navy Sargent Larron White fractured his leg in a motorcycle accident on a public highway in Georgia while he was off-duty. Although he was initially taken by paramedics to a civilian hospital, he was transferred to the Army hospital in Ft. Stewart, Georgia because he was in the U.S. military. At the Army hospital, medical staff committed a fundamental error by attempting to cast his leg fracture without padding to protect his skin from the plaster; as a result, White suffered severe burns that required skin grafts, ongoing medical care, and physical therapy. To this day, he continues to have pain where at the site of the burns.
White decided to sue the Army hospital for medical malpractice, so he contacted Terrell • Hogan. Attorney Chris Shakib agreed to pursue White’s case, but knew that it was going to be “an uphill battle” because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1950 decision in Feres v. U.S., a case in which the high court held that active duty service members are barred from pursuing medical negligence claims against military hospitals and medical personnel. Shakib filed White’s lawsuit, but it was dismissed by the U.S. District Court because of the Feres decision. Shakib then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, but the court affirmed the dismissal because of the Feres decision. Finally, Shakib filed a petition with the Lerron White Supreme Court brief seeking to overturn Feres for service members who, like White, had medical conditions that were completely unrelated to military activities. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review White’s case and has repeatedly upheld Feres.
Recently, the New York Times published a front page story “Service Members Are Left in Dark on Health Errors,” highlighting the injustices that the Feres decision has created for members of the U.S. military by allowing unfit medical personnel to avoid accountability for dangerous or even deadly mistakes.
Terrell • Hogan will continue to fight for the rights of all of our clients, including the many service members we have proudly represented over the course of 40 years.