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Hullett v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

January 27, 2015

SAMMIE L. HULLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

KARON OWEN BOWDRE, Chief District Judge.

The court held a bench trial on this matter on January 20, 2015 and heard evidence from both sides. Based on the evidence and stipulated facts the court made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

I. Findings of Fact

A. Stipulated facts by the Parties Adopted by the Court

1. On December 1, 2008, the VA in Decatur, Georgia, received plaintiff's administrative claim in the amount of $3, 500, 000, which contended that the tip of a dialysis catheter had broken off and been left his chest in approximately 2006.
2. Plaintiff later clarified that incident occurred on February 15, 2007, at the VA hospital in Birmingham, AL but that he had discovered this incident on or about May 14, 2008.
3. Plaintiff's administrative claim was finally denied by the VA by a letter dated February 29, 2012.
4. Plaintiff filed his judicial complaint in the U.S. District Court on August 28, 2012. Plaintiff's judicial complaint claims that a "retained fragment" from a catheter procedure during dialysis was improperly left inside him.
5. Plaintiff produced no medical expert testimony to support his claims of breach of the standard of care, causation or proximate cause of damages.
6. Plaintiff relies on a retained foreign object theory to support his claims under the laws of Alabama.
7. (Deleted by the court)
8. (Deleted by the court)
9. Plaintiff, an African-American male, was born on May 4, 1951, and he served in the United States Navy from November 14, 1972 to July 14, 1976, when he was honorably discharged.
10. Plaintiff has a history of the following illnesses: end stage renal disease, rectal polyp, embolism and thrombosis of vena cava, stress incontinence, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, impotence of psychogenic origin, hepatitis C, diabetes mellitus type II with unspecified renal manifestations, nephritis and nephropathy, anemia, retinal edema, and diabetic retinopathy.

B. Medical Event Timeline with the dates Plaintiff Received Medical Care at the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center (BVAMC) Supported by Medical Records and Testimonies - Stipulated by Parties and Adopted by the Court

1. In December 11, 2003, plaintiff was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and underwent first placement of many catheter based vascular access (permacath) procedures. (Defendant's Exhibit 3-Medical Records-VA radiology report-Bates numbers: Hullett_011494 and Hullett_011495) (Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at p. 20)
2. In late 2006, plaintiff had symptoms of superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS). (Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at p. 79)
3. On January 18, 2007, the VA was notified that the plaintiff was undergoing a graft placement for hemodialysis access at Medical Center East in Birmingham, Alabama. (Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at p. 42, Government Exhibit 5, p. 2)
4. February 15, 2007 plaintiff claimed that a "retained fragment" from a catheter procedure during dialysis was improperly left inside him. (Pretrial Order stipulation and plaintiff contentions)
5. On February 15, 2007, a request was made to evaluate plaintiff for SVC obstruction, and a CT of the thorax was performed which yielded the following impression: "Stenosis of the lower jugular vein and also of the lower SVC down to the diameter of a right jugular dialysis catheter with resultant multiple collaterals in the neck and chest wall." (Defendant's Exhibit 3-Medical Records-VA radiology report-Bates numbers: Hullett_011340 and Hullett_011342) (Deposition of Dr. J. Kevin Smith, of September 11, 2014, at pp. 33-35; Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at pp. 23-25)
6. On February 16, 2007, an angioplasty of the SVC was performed and a guide wire was passed through the SVC into the left innominate vein and into the right internal jugular vein. (Defendant's Exhibit 3-Medical Records-VA radiology report-Bates numbers: Hullett_011312 through Hullett_011339) (Deposition of Dr. J. Kevin Smith, of September 11, 2014, at pp. 35-37; Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at pp. 25-28)
7. On March 26, 2007, plaintiff had chest x-rays, and no fragment was seen. All catheter wires have radiopaque qualities that make any part of the wires show up on x-rays and the like. (Defendant's Exhibit 3-Medical Records-VA radiology report-Bates number: Hullett_011308) (Deposition of Dr. J. Kevin Smith, of September 11, 2014, at pp. 16, 17, 23, and 37; Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at p. 28)
8. On December 18, 2007, plaintiff had a chest x-ray, and no ragment was seen. (Defendant's Exhibit 3-Medical Records-VA radiology report-Bates number: Hullett_011306) (Deposition of Dr. J. Kevin Smith, of September 11, 2014, at p. 38; Deposition of Dr. Carlton Young, of September 19, 2014, at p. 28)
9. On December 20, 2007, plaintiff had a chest x-ray, and no fragment was seen. (Defendant's Exhibit 3-Medical Records-VA radiology report-Bates number: Hullett_011294) (Deposition of Dr. J. Kevin Smith, of September 11, 2014, at p. 38; ...

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