VA clinics, nursing homes continue to face lawsuits, settle cases.
Democratic U.S. District Court Judge Victor Bolden has ordered Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay more than $9 million to a Manchester, Connecticut, resident Eric March following an incident of medical malpractice at the West Haven Veterans Affairs medical center where he had gone in for hernia surgery. March, a Navy veteran, and his wife, Dina, were awarded a total of $9.47 million in economic and compensatory damages, and the settlement is one of many in a string of lawsuits the VA has had to fend off as of late.
“This is a veteran who had entrusted his care to the doctors at the U.S. VA and it is clear to me something went terribly wrong during the surgery,” said March’s attorney, Kathleen Nastri of Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder. Thomas Carson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was tasked with attempting to fend off the allegations.
March’s 2017 lawsuit stated, “In June 2015, [plaintiff] was admitted to the West Haven VA hospital for a laparoscopic hernia repair procedure. In the days following his discharge from the hospital he complained of pain and a fever. He went to another hospital where a CT scan determined he had a perforated abdomen. On further investigation, a doctor discovered that March’s bowels had leaked out of the perforation in his abdomen, and he had a severe infection.”
During testimony at trial, the plaintiff’s VA doctors “disagreed on which one of them had inspected March’s abdomen following the procedure,” according to court records.
The VA and its clinics nationwide have had to fend off lawsuits alleging cases of malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death over the years. Just weeks ago, the story of ex-Air Force airman and Vietnam War veteran Joe Marrable broke in which the vet, who was 73 and in the late stages of lung cancer, moved to the Atlanta area to be closer to family. He relocated to the Eagles Nest Community Living Center, a long-term veteran’s care facility in Decatur, Georgia.
Marrable was attacked by a colony of fire ants inside his room at the facility “that bit him more than 100 times all over his body,” according to a subsequent lawsuit filed by his family, which continues, “For months, fire ants swarmed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-run nursing home in which Marrable was a live-in patient. And the VA did little to the remove the insects.”
Internal reports of the center showed unsanitary living conditions and revealed that several patients were bitten by fire ants around the same time, in June 2019. Marrable’s family is suing the federal government and the exterminator it hired for $20 million.
“The family is determined to raise awareness about the treatment of the veterans at these facilities and make sure that things such as this don’t happen again to any other veterans,” one of the family’s attorneys, Josh Sacks said. “That’s their dual goal in pursuing the claim, and I think they have a keen interest in making sure that their father, who served honorably in the Air Force, is remembered with dignity and respect.”
“I think it is important that the VA be accountable, and that veterans get the care they deserve and certainly the respect they deserve,” Brewster Rawls added. “When you don’t have a lot of time left, it makes it all the more precious for that person and their family.”