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Family of veteran who froze to death after being discharged from VA hospital settles lawsuit

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The family of a Wisconsin Army veteran who froze to death after being discharged from a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital will receive $1 million in restitution from the federal government, The Associated Press reported.

The federal government agreed to settle the wrongful death lawsuit brought against it by Vance Perry’s family in December after Perry’s death on New Year’s Eve in 2017.

Perry’s family claims the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital released the 57-year-old despite knowing that his mental condition made him unfit to be on his own. Perry was undergoing treatment for various health problems, including a mental illness that left him with confusion and memory problems, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) reported.

According to court documents shared by WPR, hospital staff failed to make sure that Perry actually got in the cab that had been called for him. Upon realizing he was missing, the hospital did not alert authorities, his family, his housemates or the media or conduct an adequate search, the lawsuit alleged. The next day, Perry was found in a parking garage, dead from exposure to extreme cold.

“He couldn’t care for himself,” Terrence Polich, the family’s attorney, said of Perry, according to WPR. “He couldn’t remember anything you told him from one minute to the next. If you told him, ‘Wait here for the cab,’ he wouldn’t remember that you told him that two minutes later.”

The settlement reached between the Perry family and federal government provides monetary compensation but does not place blame or liability on the federal government.

“I’m pleased with how seriously the government took this case,” Polich told the AP. “Both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the VA.”

Tags The Associated Press VA Vance Perry william s. middleton memorial veterans hospital Wisconsin Public Radio
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