Two patients of an Army doctor charged with sexual assault at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have started the process to file federal civil lawsuits against the Army and Defense Department, according to the patients’ attorneys.
The law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP announced last week that it filed two separate administrative complaints under the Federal Torts Claims Act on behalf of John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, two former patients of Maj. Michael Stockin.
The complaints were filed by one active-duty service member and one retired service member, said Jaime Baum, a spokesperson for the law firm.
The Army has received both complaints and “is reviewing them for legal sufficiency before investigating their factual allegations,” said Bryce Dubee, a spokesman for the Army. “No decision on how to respond will be made until the Army’s review is complete, and the claims have been investigated.”
Stockin, 37, is an anesthesiologist at Madigan Army Medical Center at the Army-Air Force installation in southwest Washington state.
The Army formally charged Stockin on Aug. 30 .
“The general nature of the charges includes abusive sexual contact and indecent viewing in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra, a JBLM spokeswoman, said at the time.
The charges are under review by an independent officer who will announce the findings at a future pretrial hearing, she said.
Robert Capovilla, a former Army lawyer representing Stockin, said at this point the case remains early in the court-martial process.
“As far as we are aware, no victim advocate or the defense team has seen the entirety of discovery. The defense is looking forward to trying this case in the courtroom where it belongs, not in the court of public opinion,” Capovilla said in a statement. “Up to this point, the Army seems dedicated to preserving a fair trial, and we certainly hope that will remain the case.”
Charges against Stockin came 18 months after he was ordered to cease contact with patients in February 2022.
Sanford Heisler Sharp’s statement last week said the Federal Tort Claim Act process must occur prior to any lawsuit. The act is a federal statute that permits individuals to bring legal claims against federal agencies for a wrongful act committed by their employees.
Prior to filing an FTCA complaint in court, the individual must first file an administrative complaint with the agency at fault. The agency is then afforded six months to investigate the claim. After that, the individual can file a lawsuit against the agency in federal court.
The complaints filed by the law firm were not released publicly. In a statement, the law firms alleged Stockin inappropriately touched John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 after requesting each disrobe during their respective appointments, with no other staff present.
“My clients went to this doctor because they were in pain. They were in a vulnerable position, and they trusted this doctor. Dr. Stockin abused that trust,” said Christine Dunn, one of the attorneys representing the John Does. “The Army had a duty to take reasonable measures to protect patients in its care.”
The administrative complaint also alleges the Army is liable under the Federal Tort Claim Act because it was negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Stockin, and the service lacked adequate protocols to keep patients safe from sexual abuse.
Stockin has served in the Army since May 2013, according to the service.
He deployed to Iraq from October 2020 to February 2021. Other assignments include Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu from June 2013 to July 2014 and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., from July 2014 to July 2019.
He has been assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center at Lewis-McChord since July 2019.