Lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by a former health care provider at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth, Kan., are piling up and an attorney for many of the plaintiffs said the federal government is putting up an unusual fight against the suits given the circumstances.
“They are definitely fighting hard on behalf of the VA,” Dan Curry said.
Curry is one of several attorneys representing dozens of military veterans who are suing the U.S. government and Mark Wisner, a former physician assistant at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center.
Wisner is facing criminal charges of aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery in Leavenworth County District Court, after his April 3 court date was delayed to Aug. 28.
Veterans who say Wisner made inappropriate comments and physical contact during exams continue to come forward and file civil suits. As of Friday, there were 37 federal lawsuits pending against Wisner and the government. Curry said he has enough cases in the works to push the number past 50.
Under the federal tort claims act, all of the plaintiffs had to be denied an administrative settlement by the VA before they could take their case to court. Now that they’ve gone to court, Curry said the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed to have at least 10 of the suits dismissed.
Curry said that’s not unusual in lawsuits against private-sector employers, but it is unusual for a government agency with a former employee who has been criminally charged.
“It’s rare in civil litigation to have a wrongdoer sitting in a jail waiting for his trial and then have the United States continuing to press a dissent,” Curry said. “He did these acts, there’s no question in my mind and I think these veterans are all very credible, but what we’re up against is just a battery of technical arguments.”
Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas, declined to comment.
Curry said the VA’s potential liability should become more clear soon, as a trove of discovery documents is due to arrive soon.
“Who knew what and when is what it’s going to show us,” Curry said. “We know for a fact there were several veterans who went to various people at the VA hospital there and questioned Wisner’s conduct. So there should be records of them reporting him in some instances or just questioning what was happening.”
Curry said the documents could number in the tens of thousands and will take some time to sift through.
The criminal charges against Wisner allege that he committed sexual abuse against patients between 2012 and 2014.
He voluntarily surrendered his license to practice as a physician assistant in February 2015. In doing so, he signed documents agreeing to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts’ finding that he had “used his position as a Physician Assistant at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas, to commit sexual battery crimes against veteran patients.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official's biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.
Staff Sgt. John Eller conducts pre-flights check on his C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 3 prior to taking off from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a local area training mission. Sgt. Eller is a loadmaster from the 535th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
CUCUTA, Colombia — The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure Saturday on beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, dispatching U.S. military planes filled with humanitarian aid to this city on the Venezuelan border.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A pair of U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron VF-211 Fighting Checkmates in flight over Iraq in 2003/Department of Defense
Since the sequel to the 1986 action flick (and wildly successful Navy recruitment tool) Top Gun, was announced, there's been a lot of speculation on what Top Gun: Maverick will be about when it premieres in June 2020. While the plot is still relatively unclear, we know Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he'll be joined by a recognizable costar: The iconic F-14 Tomcat.
It looks like the old war plane will be coming out of retirement for more than just a cameo. A number of recently surfaced photos show an F-14 Tomcat aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, alongside Cruise and members of the film's production crew, the Drive's Tyler Rogoway first reported earlier this week.