Monday, November 5, 2012

Military contractors, the Feres Doctrine and The Good Wife

Last Saturday I posted a note about a recently decided case against a military contractor for injuries to soldiers from exposure to dangerous materials.  See here.  I also posted a separate note on the continued reports on sexual assaults on female cadets at the Air Force Academy and the effect of the Feres doctrine on the possible liability of the state for those injuries.  See here.

Today, the PopTort blog has posted a note that relates to both issues based on last night's episode of the TV show "The Good Wife."

Before going any further, though. let me say two things: I did not see the episode and, the reason I did not see the episode is basically because I think that show sucks.  I have seen a couple of shows in the past and all I can say is that they really need some legal consultants.  For a show about lawyers, at least in the episodes I saw, they got the law and the practice of law wrong every time; although that is not unusual when it comes to law related shows...

But I digress...

According to the PopTort, last night's episode was about a male defense contractor accused of sexually assaulting a female officer, who then sued him for civil damages.   The storyline had the contractor trying to assert absolute immunity under the Feres doctrine.  So, I might try to give this episode a try at some point this week...

On the legal question itself, as quoted by the PopTort, in a report by the Congressional Research Service:
The Feres doctrine currently does not bar suits against government contractors working for the military, although some contractors have argued that it should be extended to preclude such suits, and some commentators have asserted that the Feres doctrine leads service members to seek damages from contractors that they could not recover from the government. Contractors have also attempted to assert derivative Feres or “intramilitary” immunity, although with little success. Where a party is immune from suit, the court cannot exercise jurisdiction over the claim against it.
 Go here for the PopTort's full comment.

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