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The family of Elbert Eugene “Gene” Riggs Jr. has filed a lawsuit against the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where an improperly inserted feeding tube allegedly directly lead to Riggs death. The feeding tube was mistakenly inserted to into Riggs’ right lung rather than his stomach, where it continued to feed and fill his lung for several hours before the mistake was discovered.

After the mistake was discovered by an X-ray, the doctor failed to correct the problem in time, according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Riggs.

Government attorneys representing BAMC admit that the feeding tube was misplaced upon initial insertion, but deny that the error contributed to Riggs’ death in a written response to the lawsuit. Instead, government attorneys claim that Riggs died as a result of underlying health problems, including chronic leukemia.

Gene Riggs died on September 19, 2006 just five days short of he and his wife Tinie’s 57th wedding anniversary.

Tinie Riggs said she is suing the government out of principle — by law, you cannot sue individual military hospitals or military doctors — not just money, although she could win around $1.7 million for wrongful death and up to $250,000 for noneconomic losses.

“I’m doing this because the system if broken,” she said. “The system is broken, and it’s time to fix it.”

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