MIAMI, July 11 (UPI) -- The first lawsuit against the Veterans Administration for alleged malpractice during a colonoscopy went to trial Monday in Miami.
U.S. Air Force veteran Robert Metzler, 69, is suing the Miami Veterans Administration Hospital for preforming a colonoscopy on him with dirty equipment that led to his contraction of hepatitis C, The Miami Herald reported.
During opening statements, Metzler's attorney told the court his client's life is over and that he faces a future of exhaustion, loss of sexual companionship and the threat of cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Rosen, representing the VA, countered that Metzler could be cured of hepatitis C within a year.
This is the first what could be dozens of suits against the Veterans Administration to go to trial, as more that 11,000 veterans received colonoscopies at VA hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., that were preformed with improperly cleaned equipment.
Five vets have tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus, 25 for hepatitis C and eight for hepatitis B. In Miami, 11 suits have been settled out of court, nine have been filed in Tennessee, and officials in Georgia could not say how many claims have been filed.
"I feel terrible," said Metzler, of Coral Gables, during a break in the trial. "They've ruined my life."
He is asking for $30 million in the non-jury trial, which is expected to last about a week.