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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Bronchitis sufferer loses legs


Victim of VA Wins $3.5M

Staff Writer

After years of pain and mismanaged health care, a Luzerne County man said he will at least be able to pay his bills for the rest of his life.

James Marinello, of South Main Road, Mountaintop, was awarded $3.523 million in his lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs and its Wilkes-Barre medical center. Lawyers for the 71-year-old man filed a suit against the VA hospital and its staff for "carelessness and negligence."

Marinello was admitted to the hospital in April 1992 with bronchitis and left five months later a double amputee.

Federal court Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie moved his courtroom to the Smith Nursing Home in Wright Twp. to deliver his judgement personally to Marinello.

In spite of the settlement, the old man cried often as the judge read off each point of evidence that led to the judgement.

"I was" Jimmy the Fish." I used to hunt and fish all the time," Marinello said. "Now I'm in pain. Everything hurts. This is no way to live."

Marinello's daughter, Florence Citsay, and three granddaughters, Jessica, Michelle and Florence, cried along with him as Vanaskie described his life before entering the VA hospital for a bout with bronchitis.

"It'll be OK, grandpa," 17-year-old Jessica said, patting Marinello on the shoulder. "We'll make it OK."

Marinello has been on veterans' disability since his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 1947 with paranoid schizophrenia.
Marinello was admitted to Wilkes-Barre medical center with symptoms of acute bronchitis. Nearly eight weeks later, while recuperating, Marinello took a wrong turn during the night on his way to the men's room and entered a hospital room being used to store old bedsprings.

He is considered legally blind, a result of suffering from diabetes for nearly a decade.

Marinello fell on the springs in the dark, injured his foot and spent nearly half an hour there until help arrived.

He developed a staph infection and gangrene, and in June, doctors removed his left leg above the knee. Later, after a fall, the stump would not heal, and doctors removed more of the leg.

Marinello later developed a bed sore on his right heel. The infection spread, and physicians removed that leg, also above the knee.

Vanaskie said evidence showed that, prior to entering the hospital, Marinello lived in the Simonitis personal Care Home, Nanticoke, where he was able to take care of himself. He also took daily walks on land surroundings the home.

Since his release from the VA facility, Marinello is confined to a wheelchair, must wear a catheter for the rest of his life and relies on the help of two people and a Heuer lift to move from place to place. He cannot even turn himself over in bed.

Vanaskie apologized for the monetary award.

"I know no amount of money can make up for the pain and suffering this man has been through. It cannot make up for the loss of quality of life," he said.

Marinello cried after the judgement was pronounced.

"The money will just about pay the bills for the rest of my life," he said. "But I still have my family." Florence Citsay said she plans to take care of her father from now on.

We're grateful for the judgement," Citsay said. But no amount of money can make my father's life right. We'll just try to make him happy."

Citsay said she hopes the judgement in his case will prompt others to sue the Veterans Administration for negligence in its medical facilities.

There was a lot of patients suffering there. We saw them almost daily when we visited my father," she said. "I believe the VA knew from the beginning what was going on."

Citsay said she plans to take her father into her home.

"We don't know when it will be," she said. "We have to wait for the doctors to check him out. We have to wait until it's absolutely right."

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

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With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.


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