The veteran went into the VA hospital for what was supposed to be a relatively straightforward hernia repair. The morning of the surgery one of his children took a short video of him bantering and laughing with his wife. He was supposed to go home that evening, maybe the next morning.
A few days later he was dead.
Following the procedure, he had huge pain complaints. His condition deteriorated. Little was done. When the surgeons finally did an exploratory laparotomy, they found what they should have suspected from the start, a bowel perforation which had occurred during the initial “simple procedure.” The veteran’s kidneys failed. He was transferred to a larger private hospital where he passed not long after being admitted.
The widow was certain that the care provided to her husband was deficient. She looked for a local lawyer to take the case. No one had any interest in an FTCA medical malpractice case.
Not finding counsel, the widow filed a claim on her own.
The VA denied the claim. In its form letter it told her that its investigation had found no negligence on the part of its healthcare providers.
The widow found us.
We reviewed the case. Frankly, the situation looked clear cut. We agreed to represent her.
The surgical review we got was very damning of the VA’s care. Basically, they had just let this 62-year-old man die. Had they intervened when they should have, he almost certainly would have survived and recovered fully.
The Assistant United States Attorney raised some procedural issues. We got past those relatively easily.
We pushed for the depositions of the healthcare providers. The other side seemed to be in no hurry. There was always some reason for delay. As we approached the date of the government’s initial expert disclosure and the first doctor’s deposition, the AUSA suggested a stay so settlement could be explored.
After typical negotiations we resolved the case for $1,000,000. Considering that our best day at trial was a bit under $1,500,000 because of applicable caps, we were very pleased with this settlement.
We handle FTCA cases nationwide. This one was halfway across the country. No one there could help this widow. We could. It’s what we do.