Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act Will Restore Rights of Servicemembers Injured By Medical Negligence

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Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act Will Restore Rights of Servicemembers Injured By Medical Negligence 

For Immediate Release: March 23, 2009

Contact: Ray De Lorenzi
202-965-3500 x369

Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act Will Restore Rights of Servicemembers Injured By Medical Negligence

Marine Sgt. Rodriguez’s sister to testify at House hearing on protecting legal rights of men and women in America’s armed forces

Washington, DC ─ After Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez served his country with honor for nearly a decade, including a tour of duty in Iraq, he lost his life not on the battlefield, but as a result of preventable medical negligence.  While most Americans could pursue justice through our courts, servicemembers like Rodriguez and his family do not have this same right.  The Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act (H.R. 1478), introduced by Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), would restore the protections of the civil justice system to the men and women of our armed forces.

A 1950 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Feres v. United States prevents servicemembers on active duty from holding the government accountable for non-combat related injuries.  This decision strips countless military families of their right to seek redress through our civil justice system.

“It is inexcusable that our service men and women, if injured by medical negligence, are denied the same protections that all other citizens enjoy,” said Linda Lipsen, Senior VP of Public Affairs at the American Association for Justice.  “This important legislation would restore these rights to these brave heroes, who risk their lives every day in service of our country.”

Upon enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, Rodriguez received a routine medical exam.  His doctors diagnosed a blotch on his buttock as melanoma but never told him, and the military never followed up.  Over the next eight years, the melanoma continued to grow until, while serving in Iraq, Rodriguez had it examined again.  This time, he was told that it was just a wart and that he should have it examined upon returning to the U.S.  Tragically, by then, it was too late, and Rodriguez died 18 months later from skin cancer, holding the hand of his seven-year-old son.

On March 24, a House Judiciary subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing on the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act and the need to restore the protections of the Federal Tort Claims Act to the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces.  Among those testifying at the hearing will be Rodriguez’s sister – still seeking justice for her brother.


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