TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There is a major development in an ongoing 8 On Your Side fight for a soldier denied justice.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott is now on board in the effort to provide active duty personnel the right to sue military doctors for malpractice.
Scott announced he is co-sponsoring The Sgt. First Class Richard Stayskal Military Accountability Act of 2019.
“I couldn’t be happier right now, to be honest,” Green Beret, Sgt. Rich Stayskal said.
Rich Stayskal is the father of two young daughters. A former Marine, wounded in Iraq, who then joined the Army.
In 2017, Army doctors spotted a mass in Rich’s lung and twice failed to tell him. He discovered he had cancer after an emergency trip to a civilian hospital.
Rich is now battling Stage 4 lung cancer.
A 60-year-old decision by the Supreme Court called the Feres Doctrine bans active duty military from suing the government.
Rich set out to change the law, claiming it is unfair. The U.S. House agreed. It passed the Sgt. First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019.
But the bill stalled in the Senate.
Rich and his Tampa attorney Natalie Khawam spent months lobbying senators. They met in July with Rick Scott, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
“I want to listen to him and see how I can be helpful,” Sen. Scott stated at the time.
In August, 8 On Your Side asked him about amending the Feres Doctrine.
“We’ve got to come up with a way that government does things but takes accountability,” Scott explained.
In October, with Scott still on the fence, we called him out.
This week, we informed his office another story was coming.
NBC aired a piece on Rich Stayskal. We sent the senator’s office a link to the story and again informed it we would be running another story and wanted to know if he had taken a position.
“I think you woke him up or you let them know that we’re still waiting for your vote,” attorney Natalie Khawam told us. “You did not take silence for an answer.”
Scott announced Thursday he will sign on to support the bill.
“You know without reporters like you that are out there interviewing people like me, you know they’d never hear the message and it would never get across,” Rich Stayskal said.
In a statement Senator Scott said, “Taking care of military members, veterans and their families is a top priority.”
By co-sponsoring this legislation he said we “will make sure our men and women in uniform are taken care of every step of the way.”
Rich Stayskal won a big battle today, but not the war. There are more obstacles to overcome to get this through the Senate. One of the biggest is Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
We also asked Sen. Marco Rubio’s office about this issue. It said he was reviewing the bill. 8 On Your Side will be following up with Sen. Rubio.