Federal Government Seeks To Dismiss A $17.5M Med-Mal Suit

  • Medical malpractice

A $17.5 million medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a veteran is being considered to be dismissed. The federal government is seeking the dismissal on the grounds that the complaint was filed a year too late.

According to the lawsuit, the veteran first went to the White River Junction VA Medical Center in 2013 after having intestinal issues. Doctors informed him that he had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) without any tests. The pain did not reduce till 2016, and he again went to the facility, where he was given the same diagnosis. In February 2017, he suffered rectal bleeding, following which he was taken to the emergency room (ER) of the VA Medical Center and was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.

The veteran was referred to a physician with the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who in a letter dated June 2018, noted that the IBS symptoms were early signs of cancer that the plaintiff developed due to exposure to burn pits while on tours with the National Guard. A lawsuit was filed against the VA, claiming negligence in improperly diagnosing the disease, which delayed appropriate treatment and left cancer to become terminal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Tori, representing the VA, argued in her July motion that the lawsuit was filed too late as per the Federal Tort Claims Act, which states that a claim should be filed within two years of the injury. In the motion, she wrote that the plaintiff should have filed the lawsuit within two years of getting the colonoscopy at the ER.

The veteran's attorney in response to the motion, argued that the plaintiff got to know that the IBS diagnosis was incorrect in June 2018, after receiving the letter from the physician, until which he was in the assumption that he had both IBS and colon cancer.

The final date to hear the motion and objection has not been scheduled.

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