Sixth lawsuit filed in deaths at West Virginia VA hospital

Associated Press
August 20, 2020 - 2:50 pm
Reta Mays

Associated Press

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By JOHN RABY Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A sixth lawsuit has been filed involving the sudden deaths of patients at a West Virginia veterans hospital where a former nursing assistant admitted to intentionally killing seven people with fatal doses of insulin.

A federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the July 2018 death of Russell R. Posey Sr. at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.

Charleston attorney Tony O'Dell filed the lawsuit on behalf of Posey's son and daughter, who are co-executors of his estate. The elder Posey, 92, served as a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, is the latest to allege a widespread system of failures at the hospital. Similar lawsuits have been filed in the deaths of five other veterans at the hospital in January, March, April and June of 2018.

The lawsuit said the onset of Posey's severe, unexplained hypoglycemia was “similar to the pattern of events” that occurred with other patients.

Fired hospital nursing assistant Reta Mays pleaded guilty last month to intentionally killing seven patients with wrongful insulin injections. Mays, 46, faces up to life in prison for each of seven counts of second-degree murder. No sentencing date has been set.

Mays admitted at a plea hearing to purposely killing the veterans, injecting them with unprescribed insulin while she worked overnight shifts at the hospital in northern West Virginia between 2017 and 2018. Her motive is still unclear. U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said authorities did not receive a “satisfactory response” to questions about the reasoning behind her actions.

It is not clear whether Mays admitted a connection to Posey's death. But in addition to her second-degree murder pleas, she also pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit murder involving the death of “veteran R.R.P." — Posey's initials.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred B. Westfall Jr. has said in court filings in response to some of the lawsuits that Mays acted outside the scope of her employment, the federal government should not liable for her criminal conduct and that the suits should be dismissed.

The VA is the government’s second-largest department, responsible for 9 million military veterans. The agency’s former director was fired in 2018 in the wake of a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency. Robert Wilkie took over as Veterans Affairs secretary in July 2018.

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