A Marine sergeant who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after some harrowing experiences in Iraq won $3.7 million in his lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for not treating his illness properly and giving him the wrong medications.
While conducting door-to-door sweeps of houses in Baghdad, Marine sergeant Stanley Laskowski pushed open the door of an apartment discovering a dying child, covered in blood.
He had shot open the lock on the outside of the door, and thought that he had caused the bloody scene. In another incident, while searching through a destroyed house, he came across the remains of a six month-old baby.
Thus began the 34-year-old Marine’s downward mental spiral and post-traumatic stress disorder.
After he was discharged in 2007, he went to a local VA medical center in Pennsylvania.
According to his lawsuit, clinicians committed medical malpractice and botched his treatment by giving him the wrong medication and not offering psychotherapy to deal with nightmares, paranoia and flashbacks.
The trial was conducted in front of a judge rather than a jury.
Laskowski testified at trial but was not able to revisit some of his worst moments of the war, including finding the bloody child after shooting the locked door.
“I had to get into that door,” Laskowski testified. “I really don’t want to get into that, if that’s all right.”
The government argued that the medical staff did prescribe the correct meds but Laskowski didn’t tell them that his condition was getting worse and even canceled scheduled follow-up appointments with the VA.
But the judge found that the VA should not have waited before letting Laskowski see a doctor. Instead, he saw only nurses and physician assistants for the first several months.
The judge’s verdict awarding Laskowski $3.7 million provided “justice” for a decorated war vet, according to his attorney, Daniel T. Brier of the law firm Caldwell & Kearns.
“He went to Iraq to fight the enemy,” he said. “He never expected to come home and fight his own government. We need to protect our protectors.”
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