Is the VA Hospital in Pineville negligent in its care?

July 15 cover

RICO Act sought against VA doctors, administrator

By Bill Sumrall
The Light

Criminal conspiracy charges are being sought in a plaintiff’s federal lawsuit against two VA Hospital doctors and the hospital’s administrator.
Veterans and relatives of veterans gathered Friday, July 17, on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Alexandria.
They wished to call attention to complaints with the Alexandria Veterans Affairs Medical Center located in Pineville.
A lawsuit was filed May 26, 2009, against two VA Medical Center doctors and the hospital’s administrator in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
Paul Labbe with the Louisiana Veterans Advocacy Group based in Lake Charles said, “We put in a motion to amend the suit to include the laws under the RICO Act.”
RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970.
“The RICO Act was created for organized crimes but it also can be used against any agency or group of people,” Labbe said.
The amended complaint alleges a criminal conspiracy to cover up malpractice or maltreatment of patients, including alteration of veterans’ medical records.
“We amended the suit but we expect the general counsel (John Broadwell, representing the two doctors and hospital administrator) to come back and try to ask the judge (Dee Drell) not to allow us to amend the suit,” Labbe said.
Labbe initially said he expected Broadwell’s motion to ask Judge Drell to rule against use of the RICO Act would be filed no later than July 17 but later amended the time estimate for filing to no later than July 21.
Then, Labbe said, the judge takes whatever amount of time he needs in order to issue a ruling, however added that no trial date has yet been set.
The case is styled Floyd Hamilton, III as plaintiff versus Dr. Shivani Negi, Dr. Hollis Reed and Ms. Barbara Watkins as defendants.
Hamilton said he filed suit on behalf of his father, Floyd Hamilton Jr.
Court documents identify Negi as head of the VA Hospital’s intensive care unit, Hollis as the VA Hospital’s chief of staff, and Watkins as the VA Hospital’s administrator.
Labbe contends Broadwell is trying to get all the affidavits tossed out that were filed in support of Hamilton’s lawsuit to prove a pattern in acts of malpractice.
“It doesn’t do you any good to have people submitting affidavits and then the court can’t hear it or put them separately,” Labbe said.
“We’ve submitted affidavits, which are sworn statements from these individuals, some of them who’ve lost lives, and some of them lost limbs they shouldn’t have,” Labbe said.
“Unless all of the information is given, you can’t get a true picture of it,” Labbe said.
“We’re not suing for malpractice. We’re suing for the cover-up — the same reason why President Nixon was removed from office was because when you cover up a crime, you’ve committed a crime — it’s called fraud,” Labbe said.
Labbe added the press conference was called to let the public know what is happening in order for the public to voice its opinion to the court that all evidence should be allowed into the case.
Labbe also urged contacting Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office at (202) 224-5824 asking her to keep her promise to veterans for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to expose wrongs by the Court of Appeals for veterans’ claims.
“The next step is we’ll be taking depositions, which is much stronger than an affidavit,” Labbe said.
Every word of a deposition, which allows for cross-examination, has to be allowed into the court records, Labbe said.
“We’re going to depose the doctors who have been opposing the actions of this one particular doctor,” Labbe said.
“It doesn’t do any good for us to submit evidence of a conspiracy, of cover-up, then it be disallowed to being heard by the jury,” Labbe said.
Both Labbe and Hamilton claimed Inspector General investigators looking into the doctor’s actions failed to contact Hamilton as the plaintiff for his side of the story about his father’s treatment.
Hamilton said he visited Landrieu’s office in Washington D.C. but was told they couldn’t make the VA release information about his father’s case.
“Sen. Landrieu is a senator, and what kind of power does she have if an agency of the government can’t respond to a senator?” Hamilton asked.
The amended complaint seeks for Hamilton and his mother $500,000 “for mental anguish and loss of consortium” plus a separate $800,000 “to prevent future conduct as described in this complaint,” according to documents provided by Labbe.

Read more stories in The Light. Click here: July 15, Pages 1-6, July 15, Pages 7-12

4 Responses

  1. Coverup..?
    None of the vets there really knew what was really going on. They were told to be at the courthouse. Seems this is all about money..

  2. I am having problems with the VA in Pineville, also. And my husband, David L Griffin, RCPO has ALS and Dr Negi is his doctor also. I am not happy with her or the patient advocate, Mr Gibson. My husband is completely helpless at 55 yrs old and gave over 20 years of his life to protect this country to be treated like this. She is trying to get him sent to a nursing home where he will be dead within two weeks. I have been fighting battles for him since he has been a patient there. It is one thing after another. The care is laxed and the attitudes are the pits. I also don’t appreciate a doctor lying to me. This suit does not suprise me, in fact it has just added more information for me to fight with. David can only move his eyes and nothing else. He can not call a nurse if needed. He keeps getting infection after infection. His lungs are full and will never be clear and he has a very bad wound on his tail bone. We had it cleared up while he was at home, but since he went back to the VA it has opened up and gotten worse. I have to do his oral care everytime I go and a lot of times the cock on trech is open instead of closed like it is suppose to be. His spudum cup is over flowing most of the time I have to ask them to come change it. They hate me there and I really think that they are trying to get rid of me and not David. He is an acute care patient and needs to stay there. Nursing homes will only we worse. Besides, I am on a walker and his mom is in her mid 80’s and where ever they transfer him, which, would be a very hard trip on him, we will be driving anywhere from 3 to 5 hours one way to go see him. We are all on fixed income and just can’t physically or financially afford to make the trips more than once a week. His mom has a companion to drive her, but I would be driving alone. David is very ill and does not belong in a nursing home. I still have not been given a reason why he can not stay there. They dance around it. The patient advocate said it is a medical decission and he can not do anything about it. Well, that is what I thought a patient advocate is to help with all problems.

  3. I believe ‘cover-up’ is standard operation procedure for the VA.

    Once you realize the Patient Advocate DOESN’T work for the patients, but actually for the DIRECTOR, then it’s a bit easier to see how they will lie to avoid telling the truth about themseleves and others.

    In fact, they will make attempts to discredit you with any piece of mud they can get their hands on. If none is available, they will make up some.

    My experience with “interns” is simply too unbelieveable to me, that I won’t post it. I would sound as crazy as they are trying to make me out to be.

    Sure I have an anxiety disorder. But the CARING people of the VA don’t seem to be able to CARE about that when you’re angry at them for their lack of professionalism, arrogance beyond belief, and just ineptitude no one wants to believe, even though it’s there …

    I hope these guys win on the RICO. Seems to me, there’s a class action for the VA San Diego, if they do …

  4. This individual is completely right! They also cover up mess ups in medication application and have administered the wrong meds to both regular and employees that became life threatening. And if you infact check the number of people that have ben listed as drug seeking in the past decade or so that have been injured and have severe pain and later listed as drug seekers and mentally challenged. I used to think that it was only them (non-employed) and later find that even we have been targeted,labelled and grouped into those same categories. I had to loss full range of my neck, left arm and hiparea in order to seek off station medical hip only to find that my condition was bad at first and now it is even worst and never to return to good health levels complete with 6 titanium screws and a plate supporting 4 vertibrae. And needing two other surgeries.

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