The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 11, 2012

Family sues VA over vet’s Legionnaires’ death

PITTSBURGH — The family of a western Pennsylvania veteran who died last month is suing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs saying he contracted Legionnaires’ disease at a Pittsburgh VA hospital.

The suit filed Monday by the family of 87-year-old William Nicklas alleges the hospital failed to properly maintain its water systems despite recurring illnesses and warnings from experts.

Nicklas’ family says he was in good health before visiting Pittsburgh’s Veterans Affairs hospital for heart trouble in October.

The Navy vet’s health quickly deteriorated in November, with the family saying they were told he’d contracted Legionnaires’ disease on Nov. 21. He died two days later.

VA officials declined to comment on the litigation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says five cases have been linked to Pittsburgh’s VA hospitals. Union officials say workers have also been sickened.

 

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