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Family files wrongful death suit against VA

The family of a 25-year-old California lab worker at a Veterans Affairs medical center is taking legal action against the institution after his death from bacterial infection. The wrongful death lawsuit asks for more than $20 million in damages based on a claim of negligence on the part of the medical center.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the center and uncovered at least three serious violations of safety measures to protect lab workers from infection. OSHA has stated that the young man's death was caused by failure of the VA to protect its lab workers from exposure to the harmful bacteria. Serious OSHA violations include those threats that create a substantial probability of physical harm or death and must be corrected immediately to avoid fines and penalties.

The victim was an employee of another research institute but worked at the VA under an arrangement between the agency and the research facility. OSHA cannot impose fines on a federal agency but can require the medical research institute to comply. Therefore, OSHA will not be able to fine the VA in this case.

The family of the victim is seeking damages under a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death suit is filed when there is evidence that an individual or organization's negligence led directly to the death of the victim. A personal injury attorney may be able to help a family who has lost a loved one in a wrongful death incident. By filing a lawsuit against the responsible party, a personal injury attorney may be able to help the family recover damages such as medical treatment costs, funeral expenses, sums for the victim's pain and suffering and compensation for loss of love and affection and future income.

Source: sciencecareers.sciencemag.org, "Suit Brought for Wrongful Death of Lab Worker", Suit Brought for Wrongful Death of Lab Worker, May 10, 2013

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