Federal Tort Claim dismissed as government owes no duty to soldier's family
Claims against the federal government, or its agents and employees, are handled through a semi-administrative procedure called the Federal Tort Claims Act. The injured or aggrieved victim must file an administrative claim, and if dissatisfied with the resolution may then file a Federal District Court non-jury action. The law to be applied follows the civil law of the State that is the location of the injury. Thus, when Janyce Brown filed a malpractice-type claim arising in Michigan, the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Michigan following Michigan's malpractice law in deciding it. Brown had argued that she and her children were exposed to a parasitic disease called Leishmaniasis because her husband (the kids' father) had carried the disease home from the First Gulf War. The disease is spread through bites of an infected sand flea and is common in the Middle East.
Although the family provided the Court with several medical literature sources confirming the potential for the transmission of the parasitic disease, either person-to-person or in utero, the Sixth Circuit held that there was not enough evidence of potential risk to the veteran's family to create a duty on the part of the veteran's medical treaters. As a result, the Court dismissed the family's claim, holding that the veteran's governmental medical treaters were not responsible for failing to treat the veteran when he presented with symptoms prior to exposing his family.