Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles exploring U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley’s legal career. Braley, who is running for U.S. Senate in Iowa, was a plaintiffs attorney and is a former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.
WATERLOO, Iowa (Legal Newsline) – In 2002, now-U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley settled his client’s $750,000 claim against the United States for $150,000.
Braley, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, was a personal injury attorney in Waterloo, Iowa, in the 1990s and early 2000s. He is currently running for U.S. Senate.
In February 2002, he filed a lawsuit on behalf of Barbara Wagner against the United States over her late husband’s treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City. Barbara Wagner was representing the estate of husband Lou.
The complaint alleges that Lou visited the VA in 1996 and underwent x-rays of his chest. The radiology consultant report stated the x-rays showed “radiographic changes suggestive of chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease.”
More x-rays were ordered in January 1997, and the report stated they showed “emphysemalous changes without evidence of any acute cardiopulmonary process.”
However, the complaint alleged the x-rays actually showed evidence of a cancerous growth in Lou’s lungs.
“This radiographic density was either missed by the physicians at the Iowa City VAMC who read Mr. Wagner’s films, which would be below the applicable standard of care, or it was noted, but no timely follow-up was done, which would also be below the applicable standard of care,” the complaint says.
“The latter possibility is raised because plaintiff recalls the calling the VAMC after the 9/3/96 visit to inquire about what the x-rays showed, and being told that Lou had ‘something’ in his lungs that needed to be watched. However, nothing further was said or done about this until almost 2 ½ years later.”
The complaint says x-rays in 1999 showed a mass process in the right upper lobe of Lou’s lungs. Later that year, he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
After surgery, he was found to also have brain cancer, and he died in June 2000.
The complaint says the failure of the VA to diagnose Lou after his first two x-rays contributed to the development of the cancer that killed him.
The lawsuit was filed after the VA rejected Barbara’s claim for $750,000.
Nine months after the lawsuit was filed, the two sides came to a settlement of $150,000. The United States did not admit liability.
The stipulation of dismissal does not express how much of the settlement Braley was paid.