USA Agrees to Pay .75 Million to the Family of a 33 Year-Old Army Veteran Who Died by Suicide at West Palm Beach VA
USA Agrees to Pay .75 Million to the Family of a 33 Year-Old Army Veteran Who Died by Suicide at West Palm Beach VA

I’m grateful this fight for accountability has finally concluded. I hope this serves as a lesson to the entire VA system, so other families are spared the unimaginable pain we have gone through.”

— Emma Dash

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, USA, July 8, 2023/EINPresswire.com/ — The Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to pay the family of Sgt. Brieux Dash $5,750,000 to settle their wrongful death lawsuit based on the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center’s negligent failure to prevent his suicide after he was involuntarily admitted as a patient in the Medical Center’s locked psychiatric unit. It is believed to be the largest death by suicide case the Department of Veterans Affairs has ever settled. The lawsuit, Estate of Brieux Dash v. United States of America, Case No. 9:22-cv-80015-DMM, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Sgt. Dash was deployed twice to Iraq and experienced multiple traumatic incidents, including the deaths of his two closest friends. After returning home, he struggled with PTSD which worsened after the loss of his job and being informed by the VA they were seeking to collect nearly $20,000 they had overpaid him in separation pay and were halting his service-connected disability payments until the full amount was repaid.

On the morning of March 11, 2019, Sgt. Dash was at home when he attempted suicide by hanging. His wife, Emma, called the police and asked them to bring him to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, where she worked as a pharmacy technician. Emma believed this would be the safest and best place for her husband to be treated. She now regrets that decision ever day of her life.

On March 11, 2019, Sgt. Dash was involuntarily placed in a locked mental health unit on suicide watch. Three days later he used his clothing to create a ligature and hung himself from the door of his room. His lifeless body was discovered by another patient. Sgt. Dash was only 33 years old when he died by suicide. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

The lawsuit alleges that VA staff failed to conduct 15-minute safety rounds which were required to assess Sgt. Dash’s well-being. In addition, the VA failed to follow their own suicide prevention policies and allowed Sgt. Dash to have access to additional clothing that he used to create a ligature for his hanging. Observation cameras, which were required on the locked mental health unit where Sgt. Dash was housed, had not been working for 3 years. There were no door alarms on the door that Sgt. Dash used as the anchor point for his hanging, despite numerous recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs that they be installed. After his death, the VA issued a national mandate requiring that door alarms be installed in every VA mental health unit to prevent similar suicides from occurring in the future.

Emma Dash and her children have struggled emotionally and financially since Sgt. Dash’s death. “After all the pain my family has gone through these past few years since losing Brieux, I’m grateful that this fight for accountability has finally concluded. Because of the VA’s negligence, three children are forever without their father. I hope that this serves as a lesson to the entire VA system, so other families are spared the unimaginable pain we have gone through,” Emma states.

“It is tragic when one of our Nation’s Veterans dies by suicide. But it is callous and contemptuous when the VA refuses to accept responsibility for their employee’s negligence and deliberate indifference toward patient safety. The emotional toll on the Dash family is profound and irreversible,” states Peter Bertling, attorney for the Dash Family.

Peter Bertling focuses his legal practice on representing the families of Veterans who have died by suicide. He understands the impact these cases have, not only on the immediate family, but as a catalyst for systematic change. “When we make the decision to represent these families it is always to find out what really happened and attempt to seek accountability and corrective action within the VA Healthcare system to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.”

Peter Bertling
Bertling Law Group
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Originally published at https://www.einpresswire.com/article/643690205/usa-agrees-to-pay-5-75-million-to-the-family-of-a-33-year-old-army-veteran-who-died-by-suicide-at-west-palm-beach-va