Judge allows ‘non-frivolous’ claims against John Cochran Veterans Affairs Medical Center to go forward

By Sam Knef | Jan 14, 2019

ST. LOUIS - The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently said a man suing the John Cochran Veterans Affairs Medical Center and medical professionals can pursue his medical negligence case in forma pauperis, which allows him to forego paying filing fees. 

However, U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White, in his Jan. 3 filing, dismissed parts of the complaint and ordered process to be issued on what he described "non-frivolous" portions of the complaint. 

Larry Newburn filed suit last year against the medical center, nurse Shautley Ray, Dr. Mohammad Qadir and several other medical center employees under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claiming that his ear condition was negligently treated on Oct. 8, 2015, and he further claimed that he was discriminated against based on his age, race and disabilities. His suit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

According to White's Jan. 2 order, Newburn also alleged that documents have been withheld from him in an attempt to "cover up" the center's alleged negligent treatment.

In his suit, Newburn alleges that during his ear wax cleaning he was burned with "scalding how water."

"Both my ears were in so much pain and throbbing as if on fire or as if I was in surgery with no anesthesia," court filings said.. "I felt my right ear being punctured. I suffered severe trauma, was in a state of shock. The LPN took two pieces of tissue out of my ear with a plastic spear. She showed me the tissue and spear. ... I suffered severe pain, trauma, recurring infections, chills, fever, my face was swollen and looked disfigured as it I had a stroke. I still have chronic ear pain and can feel the scar tissue in my ear when I move my head or neck..."

White held that Newburn's allegations regarding violation of his patient rights and violation of substantive and procedural due process do not survive initial review.

However, he held that "liberally construed," Newburn has stated a plausible claim of negligence regarding treatment of his ear condition. 

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