An honorably discharged former U.S. marine who participated in the invasion of Iraq filed a federal medical malpractice claim naming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as the defendant, claiming that the treatment he received for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) at the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs Medical Center (“VA Medical Center”) between April 11, 2007 and August 13, 2007 was grossly deficient. The marine had been diagnosed with PTSD related to his military service when he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in early 2007.
The ex-marine was arrested in August, 2007 after he broke into a pharmacy to steal prescription painkillers, for which he spent 42 days in jail. Later, he was admitted as an inpatient into another Veterans Affairs medical center for treatment related to his PTSD. He has been determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable since August, 2007.
The attorney for the ex-marine alleged that the initial examination of the ex-marine at the VA Medical Center in April 2007 indicated that the ex-marine should have been evaluated for PTSD but the VA Medical Center did not have a trained physician or psychiatrist provide him with appropriate PTSD therapy. Nonetheless, nurses and physician assistants at the VA Medical Center prescribed medications, and changed his medications, over the telephone. The ex-marine was prescribed psychotherapy but the psychotherapy was never provided by the VA Medical Center.
The government attorney argued that the ex-marine had a pre-military-service history of substance abuse that continued after the burglary and even after he received more thorough PTSD treatment and other medications after the burglary, alleging that the lack of proper treatment at the VA Medical Center did not make any difference and that the ex-marine had failed to advise the VA Medical Center regarding the severity of his PTSD symptoms.
The federal medical malpractice case is captioned Stanley P. Laskowski, III and Marisol Laskowski v. Department of Veteran Affairs and was filed on March 17, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 3:2010cv00600.
The Present Status Of The Ex-Marine’s Federal Medical Malpractice Case
The ex-marine and his wife’s medical malpractice case against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was heard before a federal judge during September, 2012. After seven days of trial testimony that concluded on September 18, 2012, the case remains with the judge for his decision. The ex-marine is seeking $5 million in damages and his wife is seeking an additional $5 million in damages for loss of consortium (damage/injury to their marriage).
Federal Medical Malpractice Cases
After providing proper written notice to the appropriate U.S. agency and fulfilling other statutory requirements, medical malpractice claims involving the United States must be filed in a U.S. District Court (federal court) and there is no right to a jury trial (a federal judge or federal magistrate hears and decides the cases). Cases of medical malpractice filed against the United States must be filed pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Torts Claims Act: including 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1) (“The district courts . . . shall have exclusive jurisdiction of civil actions on claims against the United States, for money damages, . . . for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.”).
If you or a loved one may have a claim for medical malpractice against the United States, such as a claim for medical malpractice committed by a federal employee or federal actor, it is imperative that you promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney who handles medical malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act so that your claim is handled appropriately, timely, and the proper and timely notices/claims are filed with the appropriate federal agency. There are many pitfalls and “traps” in federal tort claims practice that may swallow the claim of an unwary medical malpractice claimant.
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