SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - After waiting for four hours for dialysis with a shunt in his arm, a veteran told a Veterans Administration hospital he was leaving, whereupon VA police beat the hell out of him and stomped on his carotid artery, giving him a stroke that killed him, and they lied to his wife about it, the widow claims in court.
Norma Montano sued the United States of America in Federal Court, for the death of her husband of 44 years, Jonathan Montano. The Montanos' son and daughter also are plaintiffs.
The lawsuit comes as veterans hospitals nationwide are under investigation for lying about wait times to which they subjected patients. News reports have not yet linked the long waits to any deaths. Norma Montano does not attribute her husband's death to the long wait, but to the needless beating.
Jonathan Montano died on June 11, 2011, after VA police brutalized him at the VA hospital in Loma Linda on May 25 that year, his widow claims in the lawsuit.
Jonathan, who was 65, had a shunt put in his arm by the VA hospital staff that day, and waited with his wife for treatment "for approximately four hours, without being treated," Norma Montano says in the complaint.
"This greatly frustrated Jonathan Montano, who then decided that he didn't want to wait any longer at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda and decided to leave the hospital and to go to the VA Hospital in Long Beach," the complaint states.
Jonathan told his wife to get the car to take him to Long Beach. As she went to get it, her husband "was told by the nursing staff not to leave the hospital," the complaint states.
It continues: "Jonathan Montana told the nurse that he was leaving and was going to the VA Hospital in Long Beach, California, [and that] he wanted to leave the needle apparatus in his arm, so they wouldn't have to put a new one in at the Long Beach VA Hospital.
"In response to Jonathan Montano's attempt to leave the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, California, the nursing staff called VA Police Department to stop Jonathan Montano from leaving the hospital.
"The summoned VA Police Department police officers then stopped Jonathan Montano from leaving the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, by tackling him to the floor, slamming his head on the floor, and kneeing and stomping on his neck, and otherwise brutalizing and restraining him.
"This kneeing and stomping on his neck by the VA Police Department police officers caused the dissection of his carotid artery, that resulted in immediate (or very soon thereafter) blood clotting, which resulted in [his] suffering a stroke. Moreover, the brutalization of Jonathan Montano resulted in him suffering other serious physical injuries, and associated physical, mental and emotional pain, suffering and distress." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Norma Montano, wondering why her husband had not come to the car, went inside to look for him. Inside the hospital, she says, "she was told by a member of the nursing staff that Jonathan Montano suffered a stroke," and was in the emergency department.
When she sought him there, "she was told by the emergency room doctor that her husband had fallen down and suffered a stroke, an untrue statement," she says in the complaint.
It continues: "Later on, one of the nurses at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda took Norma Montano aside, and told her that her husband didn't fall, but was slammed to the ground by the VA Police, that Norma Montano was being lied to, and that it wasn't right what the VA Police did to Jonathan Montano.
"On June 11, 2011, Jonathan Montano died from the stroke(s) that he suffered from being slammed to the floor and having his neck stomped on / pinned to the floor at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda on May 25, 2011."
She claims the VA police brutalized her husband without any reasonable suspicion that there was "criminality afoot" or that he had committed a crime.
She seeks damages and punitive damages for wrongful death, assault and battery, false imprisonment, constitutional violations, negligence, loss of consortium and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Jerry L. Steering, of Newport Beach.