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Lawsuit filed against VA Pittsburgh over Legionnaires' outbreak

Monday, March 17, 2014, 6:33 p.m.

A Vietnam veteran who volunteered at the Veterans Affairs' University Drive hospital contracted Legionnaires' disease, the man says in a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court.

Edward Stockley, 64, of Baldwin and his wife, Paula, are suing the government for negligence and loss of consortium.

Stockley, a cook who retired after 35 years with the H.J. Heinz Co., applied to do volunteer work in November 2011, the lawsuit says. During his visits to the Oakland facility to fill out the application and undergo medical tests, he used the hospital's water fountains while taking his diabetes medication, the lawsuit says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease occurred at facilities in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System from February 2011 to November 2012. The CDC traced the problem to bacteria-contaminated water at the Oakland and O'Hara campuses.

The outbreak killed at least six veterans, and 16 others probably or definitely acquired Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

Stockley was admitted to the hospital on Nov. 29, 2011, and subsequently tested positive for Legionella, the lawsuit says.

He reported to the hospital with chills, nausea and vomiting, and an X-ray revealed he had fluid buildup in the lungs. He was in the hospital for nine days and since then, “his health has not been the same,” according to the lawsuit.

A Justice Department spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Families of two World War II veterans — John J. Ciarolla, 83, of North Versailles and William E. Nicklas, 87, of Hampton — have pending wrongful-death complaints against the federal government. Both men died during the outbreak. Kenneth Jordan, a homeless veteran who sought help at the VA, filed a federal suit in February. Jordan said in the lawsuit he contracted Legionnaires' during the time period of the outbreak and sustained lung and kidney damage.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or




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