Army veteran awarded $2.5M in Phoenix V-A malpractice case

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Phoenix has been at the center of the Veterans Administration health center scandal since it broke and the issue is again in the spotlight here in the valley.

On Monday, a federal judge awarded Steven Cooper $2.5 million in a malpractice lawsuit filed against the Phoenix V-A. It's a bittersweet decision for the Army veteran, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Cooper calls this a huge win -- not just for him, but for other veterans who are still waiting for care at the Phoenix V-A. The judge awarded him $2.5 million for pain and suffering and lost earnings.

This dying man took on the federal government and won.

"Extremely grateful that the judge heard the concerns.. the concerns that veterans are not being treated properly at the Phoenix V-A.. she heard the proper tests and proper protocols are not happening," said Cooper.

After a week-long trial, the judge ruled in favor of Cooper, who served in the U.S. Army for 18 years.  Cooper went to the Phoenix V-A in 2011 complaining of abdominal pain. A nurse practitioner examined his prostate and found it was enlarged. The judge found the nurse practitioner breached the standards of care by not ordering a PSA test for Cooper and referring him to a urologist. Consequently, Cooper developed an aggressive form of prostate cancer and has undergone several surgeries and medical procedures. He has less than five years to live.

"They could've made a $200 million verdict. I'm still going to die in a few years, so that's irrelevant," said Cooper. 

The court room, was packed with veterans and supporters as the verdict was read. Many see this as a huge win for valley veterans and Cooper says his fight against the Phoenix V-A is not over yet.

"And these veterans still to this day, years after they broke the scandal, still can't get access to care at the V-A or the private sector and I will die fight 'til my last breath so these veterans can get access to decent health care," he said.