LOUISVILLE - The family of a Marine who killed himself after a tour of duty in Iraq will be allowed to proceed with a lawsuit against the federal government over his treatment by two Veterans Affairs facilities in Kentucky.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday that the lawsuit brought by the family of 21-year-old Cameron Anestis of Georgetown shouldn't have been dismissed. Anestis' widow, Tiffany Anestis, sued the federal government in 2011, seeking $22.5 million in damages after her husband developed mental and emotional problems.
"You're just shocked," said Al Grasch, the attorney for the Anestis family. "The VA turned him away, not once, it turned him away twice."
Anestis' family claimed the VA was negligent when it turned away the Marine at two VA hospitals in Lexington when he sought a mental health evaluation and treatment.
A spokesman for the VA declined to comment on the pending litigation.
The VA may ask the court to reconsider its ruling, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or allow the case to return to federal court in Lexington.
The government argued that the federal courts had no jurisdiction over its decision to turn away Anestis.
Attorneys for the VA argued that the law shields the agency from lawsuits because its policies allow limited discretion for employees to determine whether a patient was in an emergency state.