Sanford Heisler Sharp Files Four New Federal Torts Claims Act Administrative Complaints Against the Army and DoD on Behalf of Victims of Army Doctor Who Sexually Abused Patients

TACOMA, Wash., June 27, 2024 (GlobeNewswire) – Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp today filed four new Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) administrative complaints against the United States Department of the Army and the Department of Defense (collectively “the Army”) on behalf of four John Does (John Does 12-15), all of whom are former patients of Dr. Michael Stockin – an Army doctor facing criminal charges for the sexual abuse of numerous patients. Between September 2023 and March 2024, Sanford Heisler Sharp has previously filed 11 other FTCA complaints on behalf of John Does.

All John Does are represented in the matter by Christine Dunn, Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and Co-Chair of the firm’s Sexual Violence, Title IX, and Victims’ Rights Practice Group, as well as Jillian Seymour, Tom Henderson Civil Rights Fellow.

The Federal Tort Claims Act is a federal statute that permits individuals to bring legal claims against federal agencies for torts committed by agency personnel. Prior to filing an FTCA complaint in court, the individual must first file an administrative complaint with the agency at fault. The agency is then afforded at least six months to investigate the claim. After that, the individual may file a lawsuit against the agency in federal court.

Today, Sanford Heisler Sharp has initiated the FTCA legal process for four additional clients by filing administrative complaints against the Army. The firm currently represents a total of 15 former patients of Dr. Stockin. The four complaints filed today on behalf of John Does 12-15 include remarkably similar allegations to those made by John Does 1-11, whose administrative complaints are now under investigation by the Army. Specifically, the four new FTCA complaints allege that Dr. Stockin – an Army pain management doctor at Madigan Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington – forced John Does 12 through 15 to disrobe during their respective appointments. After the patients disrobed, Dr. Stockin, with no chaperone present, wrongfully viewed or fondled the patients’ genitals. Although Dr. Stockin committed the abuse under the guise of performing a medical exam, the administrative complaints allege that there was no medical necessity for Dr. Stockin to view or touch the patients’ genitals in this manner.

The administrative complaints further allege that the Army is liable under the FTCA because it was negligent in hiring, supervising, and retaining Dr. Stockin, and that the Army lacked adequate protocols to keep patients safe from sexual abuse. The new complaints reveal disturbing facts that highlight the Army’s negligence. One of the newly filed complaints alleges that a patient reported the abuse he suffered to his superior officer, but this superior did not sound any alarms internally after he was informed. Additionally, two of the new complaints allege that Dr. Stockin was seeing and abusing patients as late as April 2022 – two months after the Army claims it removed Dr. Stockin from duty due to the abuse allegations. Lastly, a new complaint alleges abuse of an Air Force servicemember, demonstrating the wide-reaching impact of Dr. Stockin’s abuse.

On August 30, 2023, Army officials announced that the Army was bringing criminal charges against Dr. Stockin for sexually abusing at least 23 victims, including charges of abusive sexual contact and indecent viewing. On October 17, 2023, similar charges were added for 17 additional victims of Dr. Stockin. On February 23, 2024, Dr. Stockin was arraigned on charges stemming from the sexual abuse of 41 different patients. His case is set for a six-week trial in January 2025. Some experts believe this case has the potential to become one of the largest sexual assault cases in military history.

“Each time another victim reaches out to me, I become more and more determined to hold the Army accountable for putting this serial predator in a position to abuse patients,” Dunn said. “The sheer volume of victims here points to the Army’s negligence in failing to keep patients safe.”

The Feres Doctrine
Historically, sexual assault claims against the Army have been limited by the Feres Doctrine. This doctrine was established in the 1950 Supreme Court case Feres v. United States. It is the primary impediment to our clients’ FTCA negligence claims against the Army, as it bars claims involving tortious injuries that are “incident to military service.” Subsequent interpretations of the doctrine have defined even sexual assault as injury that is incident to military service, making it nearly impossible for servicemember-survivors to pursue civil claims for military sexual assault. Recently, however, the Ninth Circuit in Spletstoser v. Hyten limited Feres such that the plaintiff, a military sexual assault survivor, could pursue her civil sexual assault claims against the Army. This groundbreaking case has broadened the pathway for servicemember-survivors, including John Does 1-15, to attain accountability.

About Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is a national public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in Baltimore, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Diego, and Nashville. Sanford Heisler Sharp focuses on employment discrimination, Title IX, wage and hour, whistleblower, sexual violence/victims’ rights, and financial services matters. The firm has recovered over $1 billion for its clients through many verdicts and settlements. The National Law Journal recognized Sanford Heisler Sharp as 2021 Employment Rights Firm of the Year and 2021 Human Rights Firm of the Year.

For the latest news about Sanford Heisler Sharp, visit the firm’s newsroom or follow the firm on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter.

If you experienced sexual abuse and are seeking counsel, please call 202-221-3152 or email [email protected]. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp would like to have the opportunity to help you.

For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, at 201-788-0142 or [email protected].