Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Man Recovers Amputated Leg, Frozen for Two Years, to Use as Evidence in VA Malpractice Case

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Jan 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

In a strange turn of events for Timothy Kuncl, a 46-year-old ex-Coast Guardsman suing the VA for medical malpractice, his lawyer recovered the leg Kuncl had donated to a non-profit years ago. The leg will now be used as evidence in the malpractice case in an attempt to prove that ineffective treatment caused Kuncl to lose his leg unnecessarily.

The whole story starts in December 2011, when Kuncl fell more than 20 feet from his roof onto concrete while in the process of hanging Christmas lights. He shattered his right tibia which initiated a long series of painful surgeries at the local VA hospital in Seattle “to install or remove metal plates and screws and infuse bone grafts into his fractured bone.”

Even through all of the treatment, which included physical therapy and rehabilitation, Kuncl's pain only got worse, forcing him to abandon his government coverage and seek out a private surgeon who would amputate his leg three years after the original accident. A year later, Kuncl filed a lawsuit claiming that the VA hospital had botched his surgeries with misplaced screws and grafts and mistreated him in general, leaving him with no other option besides amputation.

Although Kuncl's medical history was well-documented, there were only X-ray images of the leg in question, which are two-dimensional. It would have been possible, therefore, for defense experts to dispute them as evidence.

This past year, however, Kuncl made a surprising announcement to his lawyer, James Holman, when he told him he had “tried to do a really good thing by giving my leg to the dog people. And he said, 'Wait a minute. You mean the leg still exists?'”

The “dog people” that Kuncl mentions refers to a local non-profit called Northwest Disaster Search Dogs which trains canines to search for bodies in disasters or mass casualty events. After his leg was amputated, Kuncl donated it to the organization which usually accept donations from medical examiners and dentists of small pieces of flesh or bone to use in training scenarios.

One of the dog handlers, Kevin Olson, said that Kuncl's donation was unique because it was such a large specimen, and the dogs do not normally get to interact with full body parts. “They normally don't come across that in training. But in disaster-type situations, it's not unusual to come across larger body parts, so this definitely helped our dogs to be able to detect those."

Because the leg was so special to the organization, they kept it wrapped in several layers of plastic and preserved in the freezer. Holman was able to retrieve the leg for a video examination which will likely help Kuncl in his lawsuit. He said, “It was just one of the few times in my life that I did things for the right reason, and it turned around to benefit me."

Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will creatively explore all options to get you the full compensation for your injuries to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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