Vet’s family wants apology from VA following $800K wrongful death settlement

SEATTLE -- After reaching an $800,000 settlement in a wrongful death case, the family of Stephen Vincler believes they are still owed an apology from the VA Hospital in Seattle.

Last year, Carrie Vincler Richards and her family reached the settlement with the U.S. government, according to her attorney. Richards says the hospital’s chief of staff promised to meet with the family to discuss her father’s death and ways to improve treatment for vets.

"What keeps us going is the hope that we can make a difference and we can make sure this doesn't happen to other families," said Richards.

In April 2010, Stephen Vincler, 62, died unexpectedly at the hospital on the day he was scheduled to go home.  The Vietnam vet was recovering following abdominal surgery.

According to the lawsuit, the hospital was understaffed and failed to properly diagnose Vincler’s condition.

"My sister and I were there at the hospital the last few hours of his life," said Richards. "This whole ordeal has been the most painful thing my siblings and I have experienced in our lives."

Richards and her attorney, Ann Deutscher, were forced to reschedule a January meeting, but claim the hospital hasn’t been willing to set a new date.

Deutscher said the sit-down meeting was not in the court paperwork, but was verbally promised to the Vincler family.

"The in-person apology is important because it represents that the VA cares about what happened to our dad and cares about making changes that will make that facility safer for other veterans," said Richards.

A VA Hospital spokesperson said the case has been settled and the hospital would not be releasing a statement. As part of the settlement, the government does not accept liability or fault.

Vincler’s family said they are reaching out to Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to help facilitate a new meeting.