United States v. Brown (348 U.S. 110)/Dissent Black

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Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

348 U.S. 110

United States  v.  Brown (348 U.S. 110)

 Argued: Nov. 15, 1954. --- Decided: Dec 6, 1954

Mr. Justice BLACK, with whom Mr. Justice REED and Mr. Justice MINTON join, dissenting.

In Brooks v. United States, 337 U.S. 49, 69 S.Ct. 918, 93 L.Ed. 1200, we held that actions for damages could be brought against the Government for injuries to one soldier and the death of another due to negligent operation of an army truck. But we pointed out that the accident there had nothing to do with the 'army careers' of the soldiers and was neither caused by nor incident to their military service. When injured the two soldiers were off duty and were riding along a state highway in their own car on their own business which bore no relationship of any kind to any past, present or future connection with the army. Thus, the two soldiers would have been injured had they never worn a uniform at all. In this case, however, the injury is inseparably related to military service and the Brooks case should not be held controlling. But for his army service this veteran could not have been injured in the veterans hospital as he was eligible and admitted for treatment there solely because of war service which gave him veteran status. Moreover, he was actually being treated for an army service injury.

For a hospital injury a veteran is entitled to precisely the same disability benefits as if the injury had been inflicted while he was a soldier. [*] We have previously held, I think correctly, that a soldier injured in a hospital cannot also sue for damages under the Tort Claims Act. Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 71 S.Ct. 153, 95 L.Ed. 152. But the Court now holds that a veteran can. To permit a veteran to recover damages from the Government in circumstances under which a soldier on active duty cannot recover seems like an unjustifiable discrimination which the Act does not require.


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