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Wanted: Lawyers for Soldiers

Our country's soldiers may protect our nation, but at the same time, they also need protection themselves, specifically, legal protection, as professor Jonathan Turley argues in this USA Today piece, What our soldiers really need: lawyers. As Turley writes:

For decades, our military members have been barred from suing for medical malpractice and other forms of negligence by the government. Whether it is a military doctor cutting off the wrong leg or a military gasoline station cutting a brake line, military personnel are not allowed to seek legal relief as other citizens can. The result is that they are victims of grotesque forms of negligence that have not been widely seen in the civilian world for more than a hundred years. In the civilian system, the threat of lawsuit serves a critical deterrence of negligence by the government, companies and others. A rational actor will avoid liability costs by taking measures to minimize accidents.

Turley explores the historical basis for barring tort actions by service members and argues that as a resut, there is " little deterrence for military negligence beyond self-regulation, bad publicity or a political scandal."   

What's your opinion about Turley's position? Would opening the door for tort claims by soldiers increase litigation and costs to taxpayers? Or would the the threat of legal liability help deter  situations such as the current fiasco at Walter Reed?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 12, 2007 at 06:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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