Family Files Lawsuit Against Veterans Home - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Veterans Home

Family Files Lawsuit Against Veterans Home

David Lawson David Lawson
Karla Lawson Henry Karla Lawson Henry
(Story created: 3/8/07)

As the Walter Reed Army Medical Center makes headlines for the horrendous conditions there, one family now says the same deplorable thing has happened right here in Middle Tennessee.

And veterans, they say, have suffered as a result.

Now, that family is suing the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro.

It's the latest trouble facing the state-run nursing home for vets.

Last year, Karla Henry first shared her concerns with NewsChannel 5 about the way her father, David Lawson was being treated at the Murfreesboro facility

She told us then, "Daddy hadn't been washed. He hadn't been turned. His wound dressings had not been changed."

Then she went before a panel of state lawmakers and shared the former Marine's story with them.

She told them, "They (doctors) informed me that maggots had been found in one of his wounds."

She also told lawmakers about the severe bedsores that her father experienced saying, "My brother and I were shocked and horrified when we saw Dad's wound as it was so deep you could stick your fist into it."

Now, Henry is suing the state-run facility alleging that the physical and mental pain and suffering he experienced violated his rights and ultimately led to his death.

"We're seeking justice for what happened to this veteran," Henry's attorney, Lisa Circeo, tells consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus.

The lawsuit includes a laundry list of allegations of abuse and neglect that the family says Lawson experienced at the Veterans Home and pictures of gaping bedsores Lawson suffered.

"The family is making a statement that what happened to David Lawson should never happen to any other veteran in this country," Circeo says.

After Henry went public with her father's story, the state Health Department investigated and cited the nursing home for critical problems, including severe bedsores like Lawson's.

Lawson's family says no veteran deserve to be treated like he was.

"He put his life on the line," Circeo adds. "He fought in the war. He's a veteran of this country and the state failed him."

Just last month, the U.S. Justice Department announced it was launching its own investigation into the state's nursing homes for veterans, based, in part, on what happened to David Lawson.

The current head of the Veterans Homes Board did not return our phone calls for this story, but in the past has said any issues at the home have been fixed since she took the position last fall.

The family's lawsuit does not ask for any specific amount of money.

But, the family's attorney says the lawsuit isn't just about money. She says they want assurances that the state won't allow anything like this to happen again.

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