A group of Maine veterans say a podiatrist’s substandard work was
concealed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Attorney Celine Boyle
is representing three of the veterans as the case proceeds in U.S. District Court.
Their story was featured in the October 1 issue of the
Portland Press Herald.
The veterans are fighting to save their right to bring a lawsuit against
the federal government based on the negligent medical care they received
from VA Togus podiatrist, Dr. Thomas Franchini. Franchini was placed on
administrative leave, and ultimately left his government job because of
findings by a board of medical experts that he had rendered substandard
care to the veterans.
Although the government disclosed to the veterans that Dr. Franchini’
s care was below the required standards, and may have damaged them, they
did not notify the veterans until after the time period within which to
bring a lawsuit had passed. Despite being aware that the applicable deadlines
had passed, the Togus VA management advised the veterans of their right
to bring a legal claim. Judge John Levy has ruled the veterans’
claims are only viable if certain legal exceptions, such as fraudulent
concealment, can be established. This is the fight that the Attorney Boyle
is waging on the veterans’ behalf.
“The veterans are finding it frustrating and ridiculous to be informed
by the government that they have a right to bring a claim, and then being
told by the government that the time to bring that claim has expired,”
said Boyle. “We owe it to our veterans to provide them with good
medical care. When our government discovers that the medical care is substandard,
our position is that the government has a duty to protect the veterans’
legal rights to bring a claim.”
This is not the first time that Attorney Boyle has represented veterans
in their claims against the government. Her first case, Jean Mitchell,
et al. v. United States of America 141 F.3d 8 1998, involved the death
of a veteran due to substandard medical care. In 2009, she procured a
$300,000 settlement with the United States where a VA physician negligently
performed a gallbladder surgery contributing to the death of the veteran.