CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — It’s been nearly three years since the first suspicious death of a U.S. military veteran at the VA Hospital in Clarksburg. For the last several months the death count stood at 11, but that has changed again.
“I’ve actually got contacted by another lawyer, just two days ago, with a 12th. And the body was exhumed,” says Tony O’Dell, an attorney for many of the VA families.
So far, six of the victim’s families have gone public with their names, but as of now, the 12th victim has not been named publicly. The family of Army Sergeant Felix McDermott was the first to go public, and the first to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the VA. We’ve now learned that the person of interest named in that lawsuit, is also detailed in the medical records of most other victims. She is the now-fired VA employee, named Reta Mays.
“She is from what we understand, a nursing assistant. And not only does she appear in Mr. McDermott’s case, she appears in virtually almost all of them. There’s maybe one where her name doesn’t appear during the event, but we believe she was on shift during that time,” says O’Dell.
The fact the first of several anticipated lawsuits has now been filed is welcome news in Congress, which is also investigating the VA deaths.
“Well, first of all, there’s no sense in it being as long as it’s been. I cannot believe it’s over a year and a half now, that we’re still going down this path and still have no concrete definite answers. So I’m happy that they are moving forward, so we can get answers. And I hope the person who is responsible is going to be punished as quickly as possible,” says Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.
So far the VA has not responded to the lawsuit.
“So when will more lawsuits be filed? The answer is soon. By law, attorneys must give the government 6-months notice that a suit may be filed, and in many of these cases, that deadline is approaching fast,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.