How to win a battle on the road to an arbitration panel
Posted On June 17, 2021
A lawsuit seeking to force a judge to award more than $4 million in damages to a disabled Marine Corps veteran who was denied adequate medical care after he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is set to go to trial next month in California, a case that could help spark a broader debate about the treatment of veterans.
The suit, filed in June by plaintiff Kevin Kavanagh, was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, and its allegations are detailed in a filing Monday by the defense team for Marine Lance Cpl.
Robert M. Witherspoon, who was diagnosed in July 2016 with CTE and had been out of service since July.
The military said in a statement Monday that Withersons health was deteriorating.
“The Department of Defense is deeply disappointed that a jury found Mr. Wethersons illness to be the result of the long-term effects of CTE,” the statement said.
The defense team also filed an amended complaint that also names the Marine Corps as defendants. “
The Department continues to support Mr. Kavanah in his efforts to seek compensation for his injury, as well as any other future injury sustained by a veteran who is injured while serving our country.”
The defense team also filed an amended complaint that also names the Marine Corps as defendants.
The Marine Corps declined to comment.
The case could set a legal precedent in the way military service members are treated for injuries caused by CTE.
Military lawyers, in turn, could have a powerful influence on whether to allow veterans who suffer from PTSD or other illnesses to pursue a court-ordered remedy.
Witherspoons attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Military disability benefits have been an ongoing issue for veterans with traumatic brain injuries and other chronic diseases, such as PTSD, since Congress passed a law in 2004 that allows disability compensation for those who suffer traumatic brain injury or other conditions.
The law, which took effect in 2017, was criticized for not including a full measure of compensation, and for not providing any protection against claims for the damage caused by the traumatic brain damage.
In the Witherings case, the Marine Corp argues that Wetherspoons condition is more severe than the amount of time that veterans with other types of brain injuries have spent in the military and the cost of treating him.
Wherspoons lawyers argue that Wothers illness is a separate and distinct problem, and they are seeking $4.7 million in compensation for injuries and loss caused by his injuries and the costs of treating his illness.
The U.S. Army says it has no comment on pending litigation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs said it could not comment on the case.
Wetherspoon has not been identified by name because he has not filed a lawsuit.
Wotherspoons attorney, Stephen H. Schulte, said in an interview that the case is about a veteran’s right to pursue justice and for the Department of the Navy to be held accountable for the military’s failure to properly care for its own veterans.
He also said that Wunderspoons injuries were not caused by PTSD.
In 2015, the Department awarded more than a million dollars to former Navy SEALs who were diagnosed with PTSD and other symptoms of the disease, and more than 4,000 veterans have received payments from the department in the last three years, according to a VA official.
A Pentagon report last year said the service had reduced the number of suicides and traumatic brain-related injuries among its troops by about 90 percent in the past five years.
The government has been trying to reduce suicides and brain injuries among troops since it launched the COVID-19 response in 2015.