Veteran wins suit against government

Nov. 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM

MIAMI, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. district judge awarded a U.S. Air Force veteran and his wife $1.25 million in their medical malpractice case against the U.S. government.

Robert Metzler, 70, and his wife, Lucy Ann Metzler, had sued for a combined $30 million after he contracted hepatitis C during a colonoscopy performed with improperly cleaned equipment at a VA hospital, The Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

More than 11,000 veterans received colonoscopies with improperly cleaned equipment between 2004 and 2009 at VA hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., officials said.

Dr. David Nelson, a board-certified doctor in internal medicine, testified "there is less than a zero percent chance" Metzler contracted hepatitis through his colonoscopy, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan stated in his ruling.

The judge, despite acknowledging that VA records "strongly suggest" Metzler couldn't have been infected by the colonoscopy, said the veteran had no other risks associated with contracting the virus.

"I realize that the chances of acquiring hepatitis C under these circumstances is slight," Jordan wrote. "But I find that there is nothing to preclude Mr. Metzler from being one of those two persons in a trillion or billion who do get the virus."

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