Marine Brian Tally survived VA malpractice. A bill named for him aims to close 73-year loophole.

Abbie Bennett
July 18, 2019 - 9:10 am
Brian Tally

Brian Tally

Marine Brian Tally survived VA malpractice. He doesn't want it to happen to any other veteran. 

With the reintroduction of the Brian Tally VA Medical Care and Liability Improvement Act, or the "Tally Bill," by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.,  Tally said he hopes to do just that.

Tally woke up one morning in 2016 with sudden, debilitating back pain that left him bedridden. He couldn't stand, let alone walk. So he went to the VA -- a decision, Tally said, that changed his life forever.

A doctor he thought worked for VA but was actually an independent contractor, botched his diagnoses, delaying treatment for months. Meanwhile, his condition became so grim, he said he feared for his life. 

According to documents obtained by Connecting Vets, the hospital admitted that Tally received second-rate care while at the VA emergency room in Loma Linda, Calif., about 56 miles east of Los Angeles. 

BrianTally
Brian Tally

But a 73-year-old legal loophole allows VA to deflect responsibility for the malpractice, leaving Tally with no legal recourse and no way to seek compensation for his suffering. 

Instead, Tally was out of work for years and was in dire financial straits, living with irreparable damage to his spine.

What happened to him, Tally says, can happen to any veteran. So he wanted to make a change and hold VA accountable for the actions of the contractors it hires. The bill also makes those contractors subject to federal tort claims laws.  

“This has been a severe financial hit to my family, because of the injury,” he told Connecting Vets. “It’s too late for me, but I want to protect veterans from unidentified independent contractors who aren’t held to the same standard as VA employees.

"One day you are living the ‘American Dream,' a solid life of production, and success. Raising a family, coaching youth sports and contributing to the very society that you have honorably served and defended. The next you find yourself trapped in a whirlwind of nightmares all while battling physically, emotionally, and mentally as your livelihood, and rights are completely stripped from you."

In September 2018, Tally hand-delivered the Tally Bill to Washington, D.C., walked the halls of Congress and went door-to-door urging lawmakers to change the law. 

But after the bill was introduced last Congress, the sponsor lost a re-election bid and the bill died. Now it's been revived by Meadows, according to his staff, who told Tally in an email obtained by Connecting Vets. The full text of the bill was not yet available online as of early Thursday morning but has been assigned a bill number: H.R. 3813.

Until a substantive change is made Tally says, "every veteran is at risk ... This horrific 73-year legal loophole has destroyed the lives of veterans for generations. We owe it to our veterans to fix this systemic problem and we have the solution in hand. Our work is not over yet, but this is a big step in the right direction. We will continue on with our tireless efforts until we successfully achieve our goal and accomplish our mission."

For more information, Tally has a Facebook page for updates on the legislation: Rally Around Tally

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Follow Abbie Bennett, @AbbieRBennett.

Staff writer Matt Saintsing contributed to this report.

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