Another lawsuit accuses Phoenix VA of negligent care

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Former U.S. Marine Jason Cooper, before and after, being hit by a car (Source: Gregory Patton, Cooper's attorney) Former U.S. Marine Jason Cooper, before and after, being hit by a car (Source: Gregory Patton, Cooper's attorney)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Another lawsuit targeting the Phoenix VA Medical Center has been filed in federal court.

This time, staffers are accused of ignoring a former U.S. Marine's medical history and not providing sufficient care.

Jason Cooper is a decorated military veteran who served 11 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. According to the lawsuit, Cooper's heroic credentials didn't carry much weight when he arrived at the Phoenix VA Medical Center in November 2013.

The lawsuit claims that Cooper had a long history of mental illness and was being treated for schizophrenia at a VA facility in California.

That, however, didn't prevent Phoenix medical staffers from sending Cooper on his way, the report states.

Cooper was run over by a car in front of the VA hospital a couple hours later. He suffered numerous broken bones and a skull fracture.

Cooper's attorney, Gregory Patton, said this is a clear case of negligence.

"I think it's a case of a reckless, callous conduct on the part of the hospital," Patton said. "They didn't care about him. They threw him back out on the street when he was the most vulnerable. It's outrageous and far more than negligence."

The $15 million lawsuit alleges that VA medical personnel could have easily accessed Cooper's file and seen that he was a danger to himself and possibly others.
    
Instead, Cooper he was released on his own.

Cooper spent 18 months in the hospital and is now barely able to walk, Patton said.

He also has permanent brain damage.

"This isn't a way to treat an animal, let alone a Veteran - a human being," Patton said.

A VA spokesperson said facility personnel cannot comment on pending litigation.

The Phoenix VA Medical Center has made a number of changes to its emergency department in the past year.

The changes include:

  • Hiring of additional social work staff;
  • Improved training for nurses who triage patients;
  • Improved protocols for at-risk patients;
  • A construction project that doubles the size of the emergency department.

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