$50 million civil trial accuses Phoenix VA of medical malpractice

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U.S. Army veteran Steve Cooper of Chandler has stage 4 prostate cancer, a terminal illness Cooper claimed could have been easily treated if not for the reckless care he received at Phoenix's VA Medical Center. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) U.S. Army veteran Steve Cooper of Chandler has stage 4 prostate cancer, a terminal illness Cooper claimed could have been easily treated if not for the reckless care he received at Phoenix's VA Medical Center. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A $50 million medical malpractice lawsuit against the Phoenix VA Medical Centergot underway Monday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A $50 million medical malpractice lawsuit against the Phoenix VA Medical Centergot underway Monday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The case is the first major trial stemming from the Phoenix VA scandal a couple years ago, which uncovered excessive delays in care that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Veterans. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The case is the first major trial stemming from the Phoenix VA scandal a couple years ago, which uncovered excessive delays in care that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Veterans. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A $50 million medical malpractice lawsuit against the Phoenix VA Medical Center got underway Monday.

U.S. Army veteran Steve Cooper of Chandler has stage 4 prostate cancer, a terminal illness Cooper claimed could have been easily treated if not for the reckless care he received at Phoenix's VA Medical Center.

"The VA ignored clear signs of cancer," said Cooper's attorney Greg Patton. "They chose not to test Steve and it cost him his life, and we intend to prove that at trial."

Cooper's attorneys allege that after waiting months for an appointment, the Army vet was not referred for more tests after a nurse practitioner found some abnormalities during an exam in December 2011.

[RELATED: $50 million civil trial accuses Phoenix VA of medical malpractice]

Matt Dobson is the Arizona director of Concerned Veterans for America.

Dobson said vets across the country are keeping a close eye on this case.

"It's unfortunate that this is how he has to spend his time left - fighting a bloated bureaucracy that simply refuses to admit fault when they were the ones that delayed his care," said Dobson.

Attorneys for the VA claim the initial exam Cooper had did not show any signs of cancer and nurse practitioner followed proper procedure.

The case is the first major trial stemming from the Phoenix VA scandal a couple years ago, which uncovered excessive delays in care that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Veterans.

[Special section: VA hospital troubles]

Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Ron Valdez was in court Monday supporting his fellow veteran.

He is hoping the trial will pave the way for vets to receive health care away from the VA.

"I hope it brings awareness and hopefully give vets the choice everybody else has," said Valdez. "Anybody on AHCCCS has the chance to go to their own doctor. Give us that same choice and let us pick what docs we want to see."

Cooper is expected to take the witness stand on Tuesday.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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