Federal Judge Awards $1.25 Million in First Malpractice Trial against VA Hospital over Contaminated Endoscope

Federal Judge Awards $1.25 Million in First Malpractice Trial against VA Hospital over Contaminated Endoscope

Colson Hicks Eidson

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After 16 months of deliberation, Federal Judge Adalberto Jordan has entered a ruling in favor of the Plaintiff in the first trial in a medical malpractice case against a United States VA Hospital for improperly sanitizing medical equipment and infecting patients with blood borne diseases including HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B. “We hope that this verdict will go a long way in promoting quality health care for our veterans seeking care at Veteran administration and military hospitals and clinics throughout our country. The men and women that serve our country in this capacity deserve the best care; not sloppy, dirty and dangerous medical care,” said , partner at Coral Gables-based and attorney for plaintiffs Mr. & Mrs. Robert Metzler.

The case alleged that Robert Metzler, a 69 year old Air Force Veteran, contracted Hepatitis C at the Miami VA hospital as a result of the hospitals improper sanitation practices. On June 13, 2007, Mr. Metzler underwent a colonoscopy with lesion removal at the Miami VA Healthcare Center. On March 23, 2009, Mr. Metzler was notified by letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs that he should be tested for certain blood borne illnesses, including hepatitis, because some medical equipment used in the endoscopies and colonoscopies at the VA were not properly sanitized in between patient procedures. After receiving the letter, Mr. Metzler was tested on March 27, 2009 and found to have Hepatitis C. Based on his having previously tested negative for Hepatitis in August 2006, Mr. Metzler’s VA doctors determined that this was a “new, active infection.”

“As a result of the negligence of the VA staff and health care providers, Mr. Metzler contracted Hepatitis C during a routine medical procedure because the equipment was not properly cleaned, sterilized, or sanitized,” added Gonzalez. An investigation conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs reported that 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.

The case was tried in Federal Court by Ervin A. Gonzalez and Deborah J. Gander from July 11 – 17th, 2011 on behalf of the plaintiffs. The United States of America Dept. of Veterans Affairs was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Rosen.

is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Business Litigation by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. In addition to serving on the PSC for the BP Oil Spill Multi-District Litigation, Gonzalez currently serves on the PSC of the Chinese Drywall Multi-District Litigation. He is a partner at the law firm of Colson Hicks Eidson in Miami-Dade County Florida. He is also licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, Texas, Colorado, and New York. Mr. Gonzalez is currently on the Board of Governors for The Florida Bar, a former member of the National Board of Trustees of The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). He is past President of The Dade County Bar Association and Past President of the Dade County Trial Lawyers Association. He is an adjunct professor at The University of Miami School of Law, where he also graduated with honors (JD 1985). Gonzalez has more than 29 verdicts in excess of $1 Million and his areas of expertise include catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, medical malpractice, aviation accidents, trucking accidents, class action litigation and consumer related commercial litigation. Mr. Gonzalez resides in Coral Gables, Florida.

Ervin A. Gonzalez is available for comments and interviews regarding the case and can be reached at 305-476-7490 or 305-298-1888.

The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson is a trial firm with more than 40 years of experience handling local, national and international litigation. Partners at the firm have had the distinction of holding the following offices: President of the 60,000-member American Association for Justice; President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; President of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers; President of the Dade County Bar Association; President of the Miami-Dade Florida Association of Women Lawyers; United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and Chairman of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. For more information, call 305.476.7400 or visit .