Montana Man Gets $59,000 for Brain Cancer Misdiagnosis
For six months, Mark Templin, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran from Helena, Mont., prepared to die.
The retired 78-year-old checked himself in to the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center
in 2009 after suffering chest pains. Templin remembers little of the
weekend, except the dire diagnosis before his release: He was told he
had a terminal brain tumor.
"They put a stent in and when I woke up on Monday, they told me there
was something wrong with me," Templin, who worked for 18 years for
railroad companies, told ABCNews.com. "I went home and made my funeral
arrangements because I was told I didn't have much time to live. …I
cried a lot."
Were it not for his son -- who stopped Templin from killing himself with
his gun -- and the concern of a hospice nurse who took him back to the
VA for a reevaluation, he would never have learned that doctors had
Now, Templin, who in reality had a series of small strokes, has won a
$59,820 lawsuit against the Fort Hamilton VA. He was awarded $500 per
day for the initial period of severe mental and emotional distress and
then $300 per day until his revised diagnosis, according to court
Just this week, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy wrote that the
family's distress was caused by internist Dr. Patrick Morrow and his
"negligent failure to meet the standard of care."
"It is difficult to put a price tag on the anguish of a man wrongly
convinced of his impending death," Molloy wrote. "Mr. Templin lived for
148 days … under the mistaken impression that he was dying of metastatic
While thinking he was dying, Templin quit his part-time job, sold his
truck and signed a "do not resuscitate" order, which he posted to the
refrigerator. He prepaid his funeral and his son-in-law built a wooden
box for his ashes. His family, wife Marion and four grown children, gave
him a "last birthday" dinner.
The court additionally ordered the VA to reimburse Templin for those expenses.
"I didn't want to do it," Templin said of the lawsuit. "I was a veteran
and I love those guys up there. But the way they treated me ….I asked
them for an apology and they wouldn't give it. That really got me mad. I
wondered how many go through this. I don't want to see anyone go
Templin's lawyer, Dan Buckley told ABCNews.com, "It was a long battle
and good to see that at the end of the day, justice was done."
U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr told ABCNews.com that the U.S. Attorney's
Office in Billings, Mont., did not have any comment on the judgment. She
said the VA has 30 days to decide whether to file an appeal.
Templin's ordeal, which was first reported by the Helena Independent Record,
began in January 2009 when he arrived at the VA hospital with what
appeared to be a heart attack. After a stent was inserted, he
experienced headaches, as well as problems with his memory, speech and