Veteranclaims’s Blog

August 18, 2009

Exposed Fla. Veterans Says Contracted HIV, Will Sue

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 11:19 pm

Fla. veteran says he is HIV positive, will sue VA
By LISA ORKIN EMMANUEL
Associated Press Writer

“A South Florida veteran who claims he contracted HIV during an endoscopic colonoscopy at a Miami Department of Veterans Affairs hospital said on Tuesday his attorney has filed a notice that he will sue the federal government.

Army veteran Juan Rivera, 55, claims he contracted during the procedure on or about May 19, 2008. Rivera said he had been tested twice and both times he was positive for the disease.

Rivera is married with five grown children. He served in the Army from 1976 to 1989 and now works as postal office transportation specialist.

Ira Leesfield, an attorney for Rivera, said the notice filed July 20 is necessary under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Rivera has to give the federal government six months before he files a federal lawsuit. Leesfield said the claim states Rivera will sue for $20 million in damages.

The notice said the incident was caused by “the carelessness and negligence of the VA in cleaning and maintaining their equipment, as well as failing to adopt and implement proper policies, protocols and procedures.”

“I think what we are looking for is a change of attitude, a change of procedure, a change of commitment to the veterans,” Leesfield said.

Leesfield said the VA has responded by asking for Rivera’s medical records. A VA spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to telephone or e-mail messages seeking comment.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has said that there is no way to prove that the positive tests for infectious diseases stem from exposure to improperly cleaned or erroneously rigged equipment for colonoscopies at facilities in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Miami or while getting treatment at the ear, nose and throat clinic in Augusta, Ga.”

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