PHOENIX (AP) - A judge has awarded $2.5 million to a military veteran who said that his now-terminal cancer would have been curable had the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix diagnosed it sooner.
U.S. Magistrate Michelle Burns ruled Monday that a nurse practitioner who found abnormalities in Steven Cooper's prostate in 2011 should have ordered more testing.
Instead, Cooper learned 11 months later that he had cancer.
Government lawyers say the nurse practitioner didn't turn up indications of cancer during the initial examination.
Phoenix was the epicenter of a scandal that revealed veterans on secret waiting lists who faced scheduling delays.
“What my lawyers did very well was explain why veterans died in the urology department because of outdated policies, protocols and procedures,” said Cooper. He later added, “I will fight to the day I die so that veterans have access to private doctors.”
But there were no references to the scandal in Burns' decision or in trial arguments by Cooper's attorneys.
“It’s a step in the right direction so that the courts hold the VA responsible and accountable,” said Rima Cooper, Steve’s wife.