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Family Of Veteran Who Died At Tomah VA Reaches Settlement With US Government

Agreement Includes $2.3M For Wife And Daughter Of Jason Simcakoski

Tomah VA Medical Center
Maureen McCollum/WPR

The family of a veteran who died at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center has reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government.

The agreement was filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

If approved, the federal government would pay the wife and daughter of Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski $2.3 million “for the purpose of compromising disputed claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act and avoiding the expenses and risks of further litigation,” according to the settlement.

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Simcakoski died at the Tomah VA in 2014 from an adverse reaction to a mixture of drugs prescribed by his physicians.

His wife, Heather Simcakoski, and her daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government in August 2016.

Terry Polich, the Simcakoski family’s attorney, said they’re happy to have reached a settlement, which is pending approval by a U.S. District Court judge Wednesday. But Polich said he’s frustrated the federal government did not take responsibility for the veteran’s death.

“Publicly, the VA will say things like, ‘Well, we really feel badly about Jason’s death, and we’re going to fix the system,’ but then legally they don’t acknowledge that the substandard care that he received was responsible for his death,” Polich said. “I just think one of the first steps to reform is acknowledging the mistakes of the past and what harm those mistakes caused.”

The settlement states that it is not an “admission of liability or fault on the part of the United States, its agents, servants, or employees, and it is specifically denied that they are liable to the Plaintiffs.”

Polich said the settlement will be considered in court Wednesday. If approved, the agreement will go to the U.S. Department of Justice to be finalized.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs did not return a request for comment.