VA Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled by Federal Government

The U.S. Government has agreed to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit filed as a result of a Veteran Affairs (VA) hospital denying an Iraq war veteran mental health treatment shortly before he committed suicide in 2004.

The parents of Jeffrey Lucey, a Marine Reserve Corporal, filed the VA wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the Veteran’s Medical Center in Leeds, Massachusetts, negligently refused to treat their son for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), requiring him to be sober first.

Following service in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, Lucey’s family claims that he became suicidal, suffering from nightmares, insomnia, severe depression and drinking heavily. As a result, he was involuntarily committed in May 2004 in a locked psychiatric ward.

Did You Know? Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

Only two days after being discharged from the VA medical center’s psychiatric ward, Lucey’s family took him back when he crashed the family car in an apparent suicide attempt. A nurse at the VA hospital turned him away without having him evaluated by a psychiatrist.

About two weeks later, Lucey committed suicide by hanging himself in June 2004.

The Veteran Affairs lawsuit was filed against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows medical malpractice and other tort lawsuits to be filed as a result of the negligence of people acting on behalf of the U.S. government, providing a limited waiver of sovereign immunity.

The U.S. Government agreed to pay $350,000 to settle the VA lawsuit, though the Assistant U.S. Attorney who handled the case indicated that the VA is not admitting responsibility for the suicide.

This is one of the first of several wrongful death lawsuits to resolve against the U.S. Government for Iraq war veterans who committed suicide as a result of alleged negligence at a VA hospital.

According to the Associated Press, a letter sent to the family’s lawyer on January 6 by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Goodwin, indicated that Lucey’s suicide led to changes throughout the VA medical system in the handling of suicide prevention among veterans.

5 Comments

  • DoyceAugust 19, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    I have close friend that has been treated by he VA for a number years. For the last 3 years he has been told he had a spot on his lung. He also has heart problems because this he was told that nothing could be done. Within the last 3 weeks do to a new lung specialist taking over the department test were done that now show the lung or even both lungs are infested with cancer and the cancer may have[Show More]I have close friend that has been treated by he VA for a number years. For the last 3 years he has been told he had a spot on his lung. He also has heart problems because this he was told that nothing could be done. Within the last 3 weeks do to a new lung specialist taking over the department test were done that now show the lung or even both lungs are infested with cancer and the cancer may have gotten to the brain. My friends wife was told that the problem could have been taken care of when the spot was first found.

  • ArinJuly 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I am looking for an attorney willing to file a WRONGFUL DEATH suit . My brother committed suicide. The first attempt on the 22nd of feb but wasnt successful, then on the 26th of feb was. i want to know why he wasnt placed on suicide watch. he also tried hanging himself in jail several years before WHICH IS WHY THEY STARTED TAKING AWAY SHOELACES. So there should have been someone watching him.

  • anoymousmailNovember 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    A nurse at a Va hospital entered into my records a statement that was very incorrect. Now i have been told to reframe from such pratices of which i am not guility How can a patient at a va hospital get any recourse ? Does the nurse the only one that can make a false statement and not get in trouble. Makes me look very bad and even tho it orginally was a small event and i saw she was upseat and ang[Show More]A nurse at a Va hospital entered into my records a statement that was very incorrect. Now i have been told to reframe from such pratices of which i am not guility How can a patient at a va hospital get any recourse ? Does the nurse the only one that can make a false statement and not get in trouble. Makes me look very bad and even tho it orginally was a small event and i saw she was upseat and angry i apologized and she would not accept apoligy ,jsut said my statement was inapproate How do Veterns get justice when hospital staff has all the control? anoymousmail

  • carmenSeptember 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    theres no way i will settle for that little bit of money!! i will go for millions cause nothing will ever bring him back and then i will use that money to help out soldiers with depression problem. im a biopolar and believe me life its not easy at all for us theres nothing to lift our spirits.

  • TerryAugust 2, 2009 at 2:40 am

    II am looking for an attorney willing to file a WRONGFUL DEATH suit agaist the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Criminial Neglet charges againt the medical personnel involved in my brother's death. I have documented proof incliding the names of the indiiduals. I received the Autopsy report back in July 08 and the cause of death is questionavle. I need an attorney who can hekp me get an Independ[Show More]II am looking for an attorney willing to file a WRONGFUL DEATH suit agaist the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Criminial Neglet charges againt the medical personnel involved in my brother's death. I have documented proof incliding the names of the indiiduals. I received the Autopsy report back in July 08 and the cause of death is questionavle. I need an attorney who can hekp me get an Independent Toxicology Report done to determine how much of his prescried medicatio-ns shows in his system.

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories