Tentative settlements in VA hospital deaths

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Tentative settlements have been reached in several civil lawsuits filed on behalf of the families of veterans who died at a West Virginia hospital where a former nursing assistant admitted to intentionally killing seven people with fatal doses of insulin.

The settlements were disclosed by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Saturday as well as in federal court filings stemming from the deaths of six veterans at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.

The proposed settlement amounts range from $700,000 to $975,000. The court filings said a Nov. 20 hearing is scheduled.

Manchin said in a statement that the tentative settlement “is further evidence that the VA and the Clarksburg VAMC were negligent in the murders that happened under their watch.”

The veterans’ deaths involved in the settlements occurred in 2018.

Fired hospital nursing assistant Reta Mays pleaded guilty in July to intentionally killing seven patients with wrongful insulin injections. Mays, 46, faces up to life in prison for each of seven counts of second-degree murder. No sentencing date has been set.

(AP) – This photo released July 14, by the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority shows Reta Mays, a former nursing assistant at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W.Va. Tentative settlements have been reached in several civil lawsuits filed on behalf of the families of veterans who died at a West Virginia hospital where Mays, a former nursing assistant admitted to intentionally killing seven people with fatal doses of insulin. The settlements were disclosed by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Saturday.

Mays admitted at a plea hearing to purposely killing the veterans, injecting them with unprescribed insulin while she worked overnight shifts at the hospital in northern West Virginia between 2017 and 2018. Her motive is still unclear. U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said authorities did not receive a “satisfactory response” to questions about the reasoning behind her actions.

It is not clear whether Mays admitted a connection to Navy veteran Russell R. Posey Sr.’s death. But in addition to her second-degree murder pleas, she also pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit murder involving the death of “veteran R.R.P.” — Posey’s initials.

Tony O’Dell, a Charleston attorney representing families in five of the six settled cases, said he also has filed a notice of a pending wrongful death lawsuit involving veteran Charles Dean, who died at the hospital in April 2017, The Exponent Telegram reported. It would mark the earliest death at the hospital for which a claim has been filed. O’Dell said his firm also is looking into 11 other deaths at the facility.

“These families deserve answers, as do the veterans who currently rely on The Louis A Johnson VA Medical Center for much needed care,” O’Dell said in a statement.

The VA is the government’s second-largest department, responsible for 9 million military veterans. The agency’s former director was fired in 2018 in the wake of a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency. Robert Wilkie took over as Veterans Affairs secretary in July 2018.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.