Judge backs VA in Desert Storm vet’s suit

(MILITARY TIMES)   DETROIT — The family of an Army veteran who claims the government failed to diagnose an illness that spread to his wife and two children lost the case Thursday at a federal appeals court, ending five years of litigation.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is insufficient evidence that doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs should have known that Arvid Brown Jr. had symptoms of the parasitic disease leishmaniasis after serving in Saudi Arabia in 1991.

Because of that, the three-judge panel said, the VA cannot be held liable for failing to warn that the disease might spread to Brown’s family. Its decision affirmed a 2008 ruling by a federal judge in Detroit.

The court “just continues the pervasive and ongoing effort of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ignore those who have been injured in the first Gulf War,” said the family’s attorney, Robert Walsh.

A VA representative did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Leishmaniasis (pronounced LEASH’-ma-NYE’-a-sis) is spread by the bite of infected sand flies. Symptoms include weight loss, fever and an enlarged liver.

For seven years, Brown, a Swartz Creek resident, received medical care from the VA for various problems but blood tests were negative for leishmaniasis. Private tests, however, revealed a different result.

Brown’s wife, Janyce, and two children were plaintiffs in a lawsuit that sought millions of dollars. It said leishmaniasis was passed to Brown’s wife through sexual contact and then again to the children before their birth.

During the litigation, Janyce Brown died of liver cancer in 2005, although there was no definite link to leishmaniasis.


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