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Family of deceased veteran settles wrongful death lawsuit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The federal government has agreed to pay $1 million to the children of an Army veteran who froze to death after he was discharged from a Veterans Affairs hospital in Madison.

The family of Vance Perry filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government in December. Perry’s five children said the hospital was aware of their father’s mental condition which put him at risk of wandering away, and that staff knew he could not return to his residence on his own.

The family’s attorney, Terrence Polich, says someone at Memorial Veterans Hospital failed to make sure Perry got in a cab that had been called for him.

The 57-year-old father was found dead on New Year’s Eve 2018 in a downtown parking garage a day after he left the hospital. The temperature had dipped to 6 below the night before, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Polich says the settlement agreement does not include an admission of guilt or liability by the federal government.

“I’m pleased with how seriously the government took this case,” Polich said. “Both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the VA.”

Perry had served in the U.S. Army from 1978 to 1984 when he was honorably discharged, according to the lawsuit.

Settlement amount: $1 million

Date of resolution: March 10, 2021

Tried before: Mediation

Case name: Estate of Perry, et. al. v. U.S.A.

Case number: 20-CV-1132

Case type: Federal tort claim

Injuries alleged: Wrongful death. Decedent froze to death in a parking garage after elopement from the Veterans Affairs hospital in Madison.

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Terrence M. Polich, Lawton & Cates, S.C.,  Madison

Defendant’s lawyer: Albert Bianchi Jr., U.S. Attorney’s Office

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