The Feres Doctrine is a policy that states that the U.S. government is immune to litigation from military personnel.
The Feres Doctrine is named after the 1950 case from which it arose, Feres v. United States. That case dealt with a suit brought by a U.S. serviceman against the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The court held that the FTCA granted sovereign immunity for injuries suffered by active duty service members in the course of any activity related to their military service and therefore, barred all claims.
In aviation law, the Feres Doctrine was questioned in Johnson v. United States (1987), which barred the claim of the family of a Coast Guard helicopter pilot who was killed during a rescue mission. There was a dispute in that ruling because the accident was caused by the negligence of an air traffic controller, a civilian, and not anyone in the military. Upon appeal, the Supreme Court held that the Feres Doctrine was applicable and that a military servicemember could not sue the United States even if the alleged negligence is by a civilian employee working under the auspices of the federal government — in this case, the Federal Aviation Administration.