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23 New Eng. L. Rev. 767 (1988-1989)
United States v. Stanley: Has the Feres Doctrine Become a Grant of Absolute Immunity

handle is hein.journals/newlr23 and id is 775 raw text is: United States v. Stanley: Has the Feres
Doctrine Become a Grant of
Absolute Immunity?
In 1950 the United States Supreme Court held that military service-
men could not maintain suits under the newly enacted Federal Tort
Claims Act if the injury that gave rise to the action was, in some way,
incident to that serviceman's military status.' This rule of law, first ar-
ticulated in Feres v. United States,2 has become known as the Feres doc-
trine. The Feres doctrine has not only severely restricted servicemen's
ability to recover under the FTCA against the military,3 but against ci-
vilian contractors4 and civilian operations within the government.5 The
doctrine has been expanded to prohibit civil recovery by servicemen for
constitutional rights violations6 arising out of service connected
In United States v. Stanley,8 the Feres doctrine again emerged when
James B. Stanley, an honorably discharged veteran, sought money dam-
ages under the FTCA and the U.S. Constitution for injuries suffered by
him during his enlistment.9 Civilian and military officials had, in 1958,
experimented upon Stanley and hundreds of other military personnel
with the drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).'0 This experimenta-
tion was performed on enlisted men without their knowledge or con-
sent. iI The Court held that the Feres incident to service test barred
Stanley from recovery.'2
1. Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 138 (1950).
2. 340 U.S. 135 (1950).
3. See infra notes 95-109 and accompanying text.
4. See Stencel Aero Engineering Corp. v. United States, 431 U.S. 666 (1977).
See infra note 373 and accompanying text.
5. See United States v. Johnson, 107 S. Ct. 2063 (1987).
6. Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403
U.S. 388 (1971). See infra notes 116-24 and accompanying text.
7. Chappell v. Wallace, 462 U.S. 296 (1983). See infra notes 127-41 and
accompanying text.
8. 107 S. Ct. 3054 (1987).
9. Second Amended Complaint for Plaintiff at 7-8, United States v. Stanley,
107 S. Ct. 3054 (1987) (No. 86-393).
10. Stanley, 107 S. Ct. at 3057.
11. Id.
12. Id. at 3063.

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