Professor Figley Testifies Before House Armed Services Subcommittee

May 1, 2019

Professor Paul Figley
Professor Paul Figley

On Tuesday, April 30, Professor Paul Figley testified before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Military Personnel in the hearing "Feres Doctrine - A Policy in Need of Reform?"

Figley’s testimony focused on the reasons why Congress should not alter the Feres Doctrine –– which is the body of law that has developed from the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1950 decision in Feres v. United States. In the Feres decision the Court held ‘the Government is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries which arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.’

“Simply put, Congress should not alter the Feres doctrine [to allow individual service-members to sue the U.S. Government in tort] because such legislation is unnecessary in light of the comprehensive military compensation system (which is more favorable in scope and remedy than state workers compensation programs),” Figley said during his testimony, “and because it would disrupt the vital and unique military relationship between the government and its service-members.”

View the hearing here

Figley is the associate director of the Legal Writing and Rhetoric Program and has taught Legal Rhetoric, first year Torts, and upper level Advanced Lawyering Skills: Tort Litigation. He is the author of the book A Guide to the Federal Tort Claims Act. Prior to his time in academia, Figley was a U.S. Department of Justice litigator for three decades. During his last 15 years he served as Deputy Director in the Torts Branch of the Civil Division. At Justice, Figley represented the United States and its agencies in appellate and district court litigation involving torts, national security, and information law.

American University Washington College of Law faculty experts are often invited to testify before Congress and administrative agencies, and in other ways are asked to share their expertise with government decision-makers. See other recent examples: