Death of veteran at W.Va. VA hospital ruled homicide; Lawsuit claims at least 9 others at hospital died the same way

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WDTV/Gray News) - A lawsuit filed by the Tiano O’Dell law firm claims that retired Army Sgt. Felix McDermott received a fatal dose of insulin while a patient at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center.

The VA hospital is under fire after an autopsy revealed a non-diabetic patient received a fatal dose of insulin, causing his death. (Source: WDTV/Gray News)

According to the suit, McDermott, 82, was admitted to the VA medical center on April 6, 2018. He died of hypoglycemia, or severe low blood sugar, on April 9, 2018.

The claim stated that employees never told McDermott’s family how he died. He was buried four days later.

On Oct. 23, 2018, McDermott's remains were exhumed and sent to the Dover Air Force Base for an autopsy and investigation.

The autopsy completed in February confirmed that McDermott was not a diabetic and that he was showing improvement in his medical condition when was injected with insulin.

McDermott’s death was ruled a homicide.

The lawsuit also claims that nine or 10 other patients died of severe low blood sugar before McDermott’s death.

“It’s all very disturbing that people who served our country were being killed either extremely negligently, grossly negligently or intentionally, and nobody has done anything about it,” said Tony O’Dell, the family’s lawyer.

The VA medical center breached its duty and was negligent in several ways, the lawsuit said, and thus, their client, the estate of McDermott, is seeking damages of up to $5 million for wrongful death, $1 million for personal injuries and expenses for the funeral and other costs.

"Each time one of these deaths happened, they have an obligation to run at the ground to find out what happened, why it happened, how it could be prevented," O'Dell said.

McDermott was a Vietnam veteran who served for 20 years before retiring.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore-Capito released statements about the claim.

“This news is sickening and troubling," Capito said. "My office has reached out to the VA to learn more details, and I will do everything I can to make sure this is fully investigated.”

Sen. Joe Manchin release a statement on the lawsuit, saying: “This report is shocking and if accurate, I am appalled that these crimes were not only committed but that our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country, were the victims. As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee I will do everything in my power to investigate these accusations and get to the bottom of what happened. These families and loved ones deserve answers as soon as possible and I will make sure they get them."

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