Posted On: July 24, 2009 by Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney

Settlement Reached for 2nd Kentucky Widow Over Husband's VA Death

Darla Marshall, the second of two Kentucky widows, settled a federal lawsuit over surgical care she said killed her husband at an Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital. Major surgeries at this hospital have been halted for nearly two years after a spike in patient deaths.

According to an Associated Press article that appeared on, the terms of the settlement over 61-year-old James Marshall’s July 2007 blood infection death six days after his lymph node biopsy at the VA hospital in Marion were not disclosed. Marshall sought $10 million in her wrongful-death lawsuit.

Another widow, Katrina Shank of Murray, Ky., settled for $975,000 last year for her lawsuit involving Robert Shank III, an Air Force veteran who was 50 when he bled to death in 2007 —one day after undergoing gallbladder surgery at the Marion site.

Both were patients of surgeon Jose Veizaga-Mendez, who resigned in August 2007 three days after Shank died.

Within a month of Shank’s death, surgeries at the Marion site, which serves veterans from southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky, were halted after the VA found that at least nine deaths between October 2006 and March 2007 were “directly attributable” to substandard care there.

The article said that the VA’s findings of medical malpractice did not put the sole blame on Veizaga-Mendez, but Shank’s lawsuit said many or all of those who died were his patients. According to the article, of an additional 34 cases the VA investigated, 10 patients died after receiving questionable care that complicated their health.

The lawsuits named only the U.S. government, which runs the VA system that includes the Marion hospital.

Both lawsuits accused the government of negligence for not adequately checking Veizaga-Mendez’s background before hiring him in January 2006. The widows claimed a better check would have uncovered that Veizaga-Mendez was under investigation for allegedly botching seven cases in 2004 and 2005, including two that resulted in deaths.

When patients have been treated with substandard care by a doctor or healthcare provider and has suffered an injury or disability as a result, the patients have been the victim of medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical errors, prescription drug errors, birth injuries, failure to treat diseases, delay in treatment, and negligence are just a few examples of medical malpractice. People of all ages are at risk for medical malpractice, including children, adults, and the elderly.

Medical malpractice is a distressing situation, and the skilled Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Cherry, Fieger, and Marciano, LLP, will make the process as simple as possible for you. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, please contact Cherry, Fieger, and Marciano, LLP today for a free consultation with a Philadelphia PA medical malpractice attorney.