Journal of Law and Policy


Lauren C. Brady


For seventy-two years, federal courts have barred military servicemembers who are survivors of sexual assault from recovery under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The Feres doctrine, promulgated from the Supreme Court case Feres v. United States, became the foundation for federal courts’ decisions that sexual assault is incident to one’s service in the military. Courts’ over-deference to the military has enabled a system that turns a blind eye to perpetrators and abusive environments on bases. However, the Ninth Circuit recently turned the tide in FTCA cases, holding in Spletstoser v. Hyten that military sexual assault survivors should be permitted to recover damages. Thus, this Note calls for all federal courts to bolster the analysis in Spletstoser v. Hyten and implement a bright-line rule that sexual assault is not incident to one’s military service, arming survivors with the resources needed to hold their perpetrators accountable and promote a healthier environment in the military.