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Second Widow settles lawsuit against VA Hospital

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A second Kentucky widow, Darla Marshall, has settled a lawsuit against the Illinois Veterans Affairs Hospital after her husband, James Marshall, died from a blood infection six days after a lymph node biopsy. The widow was originally seeking $10 million in her wrongful-death lawsuit, but terms of her settlement were not disclosed in online court records.

Just last year Katrina Shank Murray settled a lawsuit for $975,000 after her husband, Robert Shank, bled to death at the same hospital after undergoing gallbladder surgery. Major surgeries at the Veterans Affairs Hospital were halted for nearly two years after the VA found that at least nine deaths between October 2006 and March 2007 were directly caused by substandard care. However, the nine deaths did not include Robert Shank and James Marshall, who died months later.

Both men that died were patients of surgeon Jose Veizaga-Mendez, who resigned in 2007—only three days after Shank’s husband died. However, the VA did not put sole blame on Veizaga-Mendez. Both lawsuits named the U.S. government for failing to adequately check the doctor’s credentials prior to hiring him in January 2006. The widows both claim that a more thorough check would have revealed Veizaga-Mendez’s “history of providing substandard care to his patients”. In fact, he was under investigation in Massachusetts for allegedly botching seven cases in 2004 and 2005—two of which resulted in death. Regulators suspended Veizaga-Mendez’s Illinois license in October 2007 and he was also permanently barred from practicing medicine in Massachusetts the next month—which also bars him from obtaining a medical license in any other state as well. He has made payouts in two malpractice lawsuits in Massachusetts.