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As many as 115 veterans could join lawsuit against negligent podiatrist

January 17, 2019 - 7:46 am

More people allegedly injured by a podiatrist at the Veterans Administration hospital in Fort Wayne could soon join a lawsuit against the U.S. government. 

The class-action complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne alleges Dr. Bradley R. Hammersley provided negligent care for 13 people from 2009 to 2016. Hammersley botched surgeries and performed medical procedures that were unnecessary, according to court documents. 

Attorney David Farnbauch said today his office fielded calls from three other former patients of Hammersley, and internal government documents indicate at least 115 veterans might have been injured by the doctor at the local facility and one in Marion. 

“There’s probably a lot more Dr. Hammersley surgery victims out there,” Farnbauch said. 

Victims interviewed by The Journal Gazette said they were treated by Hammersley and were left with permanent injuries. 

Deborah Rogers once lived an active life.

A former military police officer in the Army, she was a scout leader who led camping trips with her son.

Now, she can’t walk and needs help with simple tasks such as moving groceries from her car to her home. The 42-year-old Kokomo resident can’t work, and her life has been turned upside down.

It’s all because of a botched surgical procedure conducted a few years ago on her foot at the Veterans Administration hospital in Fort Wayne, Rogers said.

“The surgery was supposed to alleviate pain, and now I’m in a wheelchair for life,” she said Wednesday.

Carisa Snyder suffered an “accidental severing” of a tendon, according to court documents. Ephraim Shields of Fort Wayne reported he underwent an unnecessary surgery.

Jerry Kittle, a 69-year-old Army veteran who lives in Huntertown, said he endured at least four operations on a foot Hammersley said was broken.

The doctor later removed healthy cartilage Hammersley said was missing from an ankle and Hammersley “just threw up his hands” and gave up when asked what could be done about recurring problems with the foot, Kittle said.

The Vietnam veteran now has trouble walking and recently had to give up a job he enjoyed because it required he be on his feet most of the day.

“I can walk on it, but I walk with a limp,” Kittle said Wednesday. “When the weather changes, it hurts like hell.”

Hammersley said Wednesday he learned about the allegations from The Journal Gazette and would not comment on them because he had not been able to review specific claims. 

“This stuff has completely blindsided me,” he said. “I feel sorry those people feel they have been injured and that they feel that I was the cause of it, but I don’t know.”

The lawsuit, which includes more than 100 pages of documents detailing the alleged malpractice, states government officials admitted the doctor’s mistakes but denied claims from victims for disability benefits because they were not filed within a two-year statute of limitations. 

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