This was a particularly sad case involving a 40-something veteran who volunteered in her free time with the local homeless population in her town in California. She began getting a persistent cough that she couldn’t get rid of and went to her primary care provider at the Long Beach, California Veterans Affairs hospital. The veteran was given a chest x-ray, which was read by the radiologist as normal. Her symptoms persisted, however, and she returned to her VA primary care provider a month later and another chest x-ray was read as normal.
The veteran knew something was wrong and that her symptoms were more than just allergies or a cold. She specifically asked the VA providers to order a CT scan, but to no avail. She returned to the VA primary care clinic again a month later and this time the x-ray was read as abnormal, and a CT was recommended; but, the VA never ordered the CT. The veteran’s symptoms eventually got so bad she was admitted at a private hospital where they immediately diagnosed her with tuberculosis. By then, the delay in diagnosis and treatment had been delayed so long that despite a lot of medical interventions, her life could not be saved.
This young veteran left behind a 20-year-old daughter who bravely took over her mom’s case after she passed. Because of California’s unfair cap on non-economic damages, the VA took a hard line on settlement during the administrative phase, so we filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles. We mediated the case over the course of eight hours and were finally able to reach a $280,000 settlement, which was a win for the client given the draconian damages caps set by California law. It was terrible for this young daughter to lose her mother, and no settlement can ever even begin to fill that void, but she has since married and is beginning a new life with some additional support from the case that her mom courageously pursued even while she was suffering from a terrible illness.