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Settlements reached in lawsuits alleging poor care at Togus

{p}The Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta. (WGME){/p}

The Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta. (WGME)

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AUGUSTA (BDN) -- The federal government will pay more than $1 million total to several veterans who alleged mistreatment at the Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the legal battle began with a lawsuit in 2014 amid national criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs over mismanagement that resulted in deaths.

The parties settled the last case in March. The veterans claimed poor treatment by a podiatrist at Togus gave them severe pain and limited mobility. Dr. Thomas Franchini, the podiatrist whose care was the focus of the lawsuits, was not named as a defendant. He left Togus in 2010, and did not renew his Maine practice license in 2011.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine represented the federal government, and a spokesman, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff, said that the settlements were appropriate “based on the government’s analysis of its risk at trial and the interests of justice.”

One case involves April Wood, a Maine native who smashed her ankle 2004 while training with the U.S. Army. The podiatrist performed surgery on her ankle twice. But she continued to experience chronic pain for years, and other surgeons ultimately amputated her leg below the knee in 2012.

Wood was the last plaintiff to reach a settlement agreement and received the largest payout, $800,000. Four other veterans received settlements between $50,000 and $80,000.

Attorney Dan Lipman helped represent Wood and Mark Prescott, who received a $70,000 settlement. A U.S. Navy veteran, Prescott underwent two surgeries at Togus, which another doctor said continued or worsened his pain, the Press Herald reports.

Lipman criticized Togus for waiting so long to tell the veterans about problems with their care.

“The right thing to do would have been to come out at the outset and say these veterans should not have been hurt this way, and we’re going to make it right,” Lipman said.

Army veteran Kenneth Myrick suffered nerve entrapment after an ankle surgery at Togus that caused severe pain and was unidentified for years. His case resulted in a $50,000 settlement, the Press Herald reports.

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