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Press Release

VA Exonerated In Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that, following a 17-day civil trial, Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny dismissed a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking $25,000,000 in damages brought by plaintiffs Edward and Roxanne Blake against the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA) in Buffalo. The plaintiffs claimed that the VA failed timely to diagnosis and treat cauda equina syndrome, a sudden compression of the nerves of the lower spine, which can result in severe neurological impairments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael S. Cerrone and Mary E. Fleming handled the defense of the case at trial for the VA.

The plaintiffs claimed that physicians failed to diagnose Blake with cauda equina syndrome when he visited the VA on June 29 and 30, 2006. In his post-trial ruling, Judge Skretny stated that the “plaintiffs have failed to prove” their malpractice claims and found that Blake did not have cauda equina syndrome on those dates. Judge Skretny instead determined that Blake first presented with symptoms of cauda equina syndrome at the VA on the afternoon of July 1, 2006, and he underwent surgery within 24 hours. Judge Skretny concluded that the VA physicians’ treatment of Blake was “well within the standard of care for treating” cauda equina syndrome “in a timely manner.”

At trial, the plaintiffs presented testimony from nine expert witnesses, including seven medical doctors. The Government countered with the testimony of neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Moreland. 

Updated April 20, 2017