Karen Kidd May 10, 2016, 9:03am


BENTON– A Thompsonville veteran's widow is representing herself in her lawsuit against the federal government, claiming the medical staff at Marion Veterans Administration Hospital failed to timely diagnose her late husband's cancer.

"My name is Raina S. Campbell," said the lawsuit’s complaint, handwritten in all capital letters. "I am asking to bring this case because of the failure of Marion VA doctors to diagnose my husband's (Danny Campbell) lung cancer in a timely manner, that we could have treated him at [an] earlier stage."

Her complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in the Benton Office on April 27.

Danny Campbell died at the age of 63, at 9:12 p. m. on Jan. 28, 2013 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, according to his obituary, which also said he was a Vietnam War veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Raina Campbell filed her case under 28 U.S. Code § 2401 under U.S. civil statute, according to the civil cover sheet filed with her complaint. She is demanding $40 million, according to the cover sheet.

"The VA cannot discuss pending litigation," Beth Lamb, Public Affairs officer at Marion VA, said in an email to the Madison/St. Clair Record.

In November of 2009, Danny Campbell, then 60, started coughing up large amounts of blood and was taken to the emergency room at Marion VA hospital, the complaint said. Once there, Danny Campbell underwent X-rays and scans, during which the person who performed the scans said it appeared to him that Campbell had cancer, the complaint said. However, doctors diagnosed Danny Campbell with a lung infection and prescribed medication, the complaint said.

"Doctor told me to make sure to get him to a hospital right away if [he] started coughing up blood in big amounts," Raina Campbell said in her complaint.

Though not mentioned in the complaint, a Memorial Hospital of Carbondale patient record for Danny Campbell, attached as an exhibit to the case, indicates a family member took him to the emergency room on Nov. 18, 2009. Danny Campbell was taken to that hospital on the advise of the VA hospital, according to the patient record.

While at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Danny Campbell was treated for symptoms similar to those for which he was treated at the Marion VA hospital, the patient record said.

While his symptoms persisted and grew worse, Danny Campbell was seen by VA doctors in Marion and St. Louis over the next several years and he received medication and various tests as his health continued to decline, the complaint said. "People that seen him day to day said he did not look well," Raina Campbell said in her complaint. In late 2012, a biopsy turned up a slow moving stage 3 cancer, according to the complaint.

The patient endured more tests, scans, radiation and chemotherapy but Danny Campbell's condition continued to deteriorate and he was admitted to the Marion VA where he was diagnosed with two bleeding tumors in his brain, the complaint said. Danny Campbell died the following January.

"By [the] time Marion VA told us there was a problem, lung cancer, it was all ready to[o] late (sic)," Raina Campbell said in the final part of her complaint. "Even if he had not lived a long time, we had that chance to try and get some more time, or stop it. This is why I am filing this case."

The plaintiff is representing herself pro se in the case.

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