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thedrifter
05-21-08, 06:53 AM
05/21/2008
Let military families sue doctors and government, Hinchey says
By Hank Gross , Correspondent


WURTSBORO - Jan. 16 marked the first anniversary of the passing of Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez of Ellenville, who died of skin cancer after what his family says was a series of mistakes made by military medical personnel.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey announced he would sponsor legislation allowing families in situations such as this to sue the doctors that treated their loved ones as well as the U.S. government.

Standing with several family members of Rodriguez outside their Wurtsboro home, Hinchey, D-Hurley, said his legislation would seek to override a 1950 Supreme Court decision that overturned a 1946 law allowing such suits.

"This casual statement, 'Let's support our troops,' which is put out so often, really needs to be embraced," Hinchey said. "Our troops need to be supported, and there is no better way of supporting them, to make sure that they get the best medical care. And if they fail to get the best medical care that they have the right to, bring court actions to determine why they didn't get the best medical care."

Rodriguez, 29, a Marine who served in Iraq, died from melanoma on his buttocks. The family claims that doctors made one medical mistake after another, including diagnosing Rodriguez's health issue as a birthmark or wart.

Dean and Mirabella Ferrera, Rodriguez's aunt and uncle, who raised him, said military personnel deserve to be taken care of with legislation such as Hinchey's.

"The soldiers and the Marines and all of them that are going to be joining in, you want them to go in, then let's take care of them. That's what we need to do," Mrs. Ferrera said. "We need to take care of all of the Marines, all of the soldiers. They deserve it. For what they do for us, there is no reason why my son is not here today."

Yvette Rodriguez, Carmelo Rodriguez's sister, said she has "high hopes that this bill will be passed, and it will help so many military service members and their families."

The family said if the legislation becomes law, they will initiate legal action over Rodriguez's death.

Hinchey said he has one co-sponsor - Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and is working on securing others. He also is looking for a Senate sponsor for a companion bill.

Ellie