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San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center Facing Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted on May 22nd, 2013 by Staff

When discussing wrongful death cases most of us think about auto accidents, dangerous activities or jobs.

However, death can result from negligence even in an environment we generally consider to be safe like a medical laboratory.

Unfortunately, recent events have shown that these workplaces can be just as dangerous as any other when safety measures are overlooked.

Young Researcher Dies due to Dangerous Bacteria Exposure

Richard Din, 25 was a young lab worker when he got infected with the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, responsible for causing meningitis, a disease that usually affects children. Although the initial symptom is usually just fatigue the disease can rapidly progress to fever, headache, neck stiffness, coma and death. Din got infected while working with the bacteria as a research associate at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Unaware of the serious risk, his condition worsened and he eventually died in April 2012. One year following his death, the family decided to file a wrongful death suit against Veterans Affairs for the lack of workplace safety measures. The case was also investigated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and serious violations have been uncovered, including:

  • Failure to adequately supervise and protect workers
  • Failure to require workers to use a safety enclosure when working with bacteria
  • Failure to provide training on the signs of exposure
  • Failure to provide vaccines for potentially exposed workers

These failures were characterized as serious and the OSHA ordered the medical center to correct the deficiencies. On the other hand the victim’s family is seeking wrongful death compensation in excess of $20 million.

How Can the Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm Help?

Wrongful death cases are very difficult cases because of the emotions involved. Family members are often reluctant to pursue their legal remedies, sometimes until the statute of limitations has expired. Claims have to be filed within the time limit established by California law or the right to a legal remedy may be lost forever.

Proving negligence often requires that our attorneys work together with medical and other scientific experts to help determine the exact cause of the death and prove liability so that affected family members can receive some measure of justice.