The family of a man who died of exposure after walking away from a veterans hospital in Madison two years ago has sued the United States over the death.
Vance E. Perry, 57, was found dead on New Year’s Eve 2018 in a downtown Madison parking garage, several miles from William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, where he was discharged a day earlier.
There were no signs of trauma but Perry was wearing only a light jacket, a ball cap and no gloves, according to Madison police.
In a lawsuit against the United States filed Tuesday in Madison federal court, Perry’s five children, all of Georgia, say the VA knew their father’s mental condition put him at risk of wandering, and that staff at the hospital knew he could not return to his residence on his own.
Perry had served in the U.S. Army from 1978 to 1984 when he was honorably discharged, the suit states.
According to the suit, VA officials failed to make sure that Perry actually got into the cab that had been called to take him home upon his discharge Dec. 30.
Hospital staff didn’t realize Perry had not gotten home until hours later when someone else from his residence called. And then, the suit alleges, staff did not contact police or take other measures to publicize Perry was missing and in possible danger.
The VA office in Madison did not immediately return a message late Tuesday.
Perry was one of six people who died from suspected cold-related causes in Wisconsin between Christmas and New Year’s in 2018, when the average temperature in Milwaukee was only 6 degrees.
According to the Perry children’s lawsuit, the overnight low in Madison the night their father was wandering was 6 below zero.