CHARLESTON, W. Va. (KDKA) — A federal tort claims act has been initiated by the family of a Vietnam veteran whose death at a VA hospital promoted a homicide investigation.
Retired Sergeant Felix McDermott died April 8, 2018, at the Loius A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia after he was injected with a fatal dose of insulin while at the center, a lawsuit says.
He was admitted three days before his death because he developed aspiration pneumonia.
McDermott, a Westmoreland County native, received an insulin shot in the left side of his abdomen, was not diabetic and had no history of insulin use, an autopsy revealed.
His death was ruled a homicide, and the VA investigators have a person of interest in the death.
McDermott’s remains were exhumed and flown to the Dover Air Force Base for the autopsy in October 2018.
The family’s attorney, Tony O’Dell, said the McDermotts entrusted their father — a 20-year army veteran — in the care of the center.
O’Dell provided KDKA with a legal document sent to the hospital, claiming the 82-year-old may not have been the only victim.
“Our understanding is that there have been several patients, nine or 10, who had died under similar circumstances,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell said the findings from the autopsy were negligent and preventable.
The suit is seeking damages of up to $5 million for wrongful death, $1 million for personal injuries and expenses for funeral costs.
The claim states that employees at the hospital never told McDermott’s family how he died.
O’Dell explained the federal tort claims process involves putting the government on notice for six months before a lawsuit can be filed.
He fully expects the families of the other potential victims to retain attorneys as well.