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Son of Aliquippa veteran who contracted Legionnaires' diseases sues VA

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Monday, May 5, 2014, 6:54 p.m.

The Veteran Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System delayed testing and treating a Marine Corps veteran who contracted Legionnaires' disease while he was being treated for small cell lung cancer, the man's son says in a federal lawsuit filed on Monday.

Clark E. Compston, 74, of Aliquippa died on Nov. 14, 2011. He contracted Legionnaires' disease while being treated for cancer in the University Drive hospital on Sept. 28 and 29, his son Clint Compston of Monroeville says in the lawsuit.

Attorney Craig Fishman said his client's father died of lung cancer but argued that anything affecting lung cancer patients' breathing hurts their chances of survival.

“It definitely hastened his death,” Fishman said.

A VA spokeswoman in Washington referred questions to a Justice Department spokeswoman, who couldn't be reached for comment.

The family is pressing the lawsuit because VA officials waited a couple of days to test Compston when he started showing symptoms despite knowing that they were dealing with an outbreak, Fishman said.

More than a half-dozen people have filed claims against the government because of the outbreak, which sickened at least 22 patients from February 2011 to November 2012 at VA campuses in Oakland and O'Hara. Six of them died. At least five claimants have settled their complaints.

Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or

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