$2.1 Million Settlement Reached in Kentucky Military Malpractice Claim

By Kristin M. Hall | August 10, 2011

An Army soldier who filed a lawsuit over the treatment of his wife’s cancer at a military hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky., has reached a settlement with the federal government for $2.15 million.

U.S. District Court Judge John Nixon in Nashville on Friday approved the settlement of the medical malpractice claim made by Staff Sgt. Adam Cloer, of Missouri, on behalf of his wife Melodee Cloer, who died last year after being diagnosed with rectal cancer. The settlement is subject to final approval by the U.S. Attorney General.

The lawsuit claimed that medical staff at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at the installation on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line failed to screen her for rectal cancer despite persistent symptoms. The lawsuit said her cancer spread and despite multiple surgeries, she died in May 2010 at the age of 53.

The U.S. Attorney representing the government, Sam Delk Kennedy Jr., declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press on Monday. The settlement is not an admission of liability or fault.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2009, said Melodee Cloer first went to the hospital at Fort Campbell with symptoms in 2006 complaining of pain, blood in her stool and constipation. The lawsuit said she went to the hospital on multiple occasions complaining of symptoms, but was diagnosed with hemorrhoids. A bariatric surgeon recommended that the hospital perform a colonoscopy, but the lawsuit claims the hospital failed to follow-up on that recommendation or provide any rectal cancer screenings.

In 2007, her husband got orders to move to a new Army installation, Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where she learned that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy and several surgeries to remove some of her organs.

After her death in 2010, Staff Sgt. Cloer filed an amended complaint arguing that the hospital’s negligence in diagnosing and treating her cancer resulted in her death.

“Had BACH health care providers diagnosed and treated Ms. Cloer’s cancer at any time from the start of her rectal cancer symptoms in early 2006 through the end of 2006, then more likely than not, Ms. Cloer’s cancer would have been curable; her multiple and painful surgeries requiring removal of some of her organs would have been avoided; and she would be alive today,” the complaint said.

The couple has two children and Melodee Cloer has a daughter from a previous marriage.

The federal government denied the malpractice claims in court records and argued that the lawsuit was filed too late under Tennessee’s medical malpractice statutes. But the two sides agreed to a settlement before a scheduled July bench trial was set to begin.

Cloer’s attorney, Jamal Alsaffar, declined to comment on the settlement when reached by The Associated Press.

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