Bigham v. United States of America, The
AMENDED ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT. Signed by Honorable Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. on 03/20/2015. (bshr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Anna Bigham as the Personal
Representative of the Estate of Mills
Civil Action No.: 3:12-1652-JFA
ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT
United States of America,
This Court finds the Petition of Anna Bigham as the Personal Representative of the Estate
of Mills Palmer Bigham, shows:
Anna Bigham was substituted as Personal Representative of the Estate of Mills
Palmer Bigham on February 5, 2014.
This is a medical malpractice claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act concerning
the alleged substandard medical and nursing care provided to veteran Mills Palmer Bigham by
agents, servants, and employees of the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in
Columbia, South Carolina (“Dorn VAMC”).
Mr. Bigham served in the United States Marine Corps from October 2004 through
October 2008, when he was honorably discharged. While in the United States Marine Corp, he
served two tours of combat duty. Mr. Bigham experienced great difficulty assimilating back into
civilian life. Mr. Bigham suffered from depression, hopelessness, irritability, and anger issues.
Mr. Bigham sought help from Defendant’s agents and representatives at the Dorn VAMC
beginning in February 2009. Plaintiff alleges that healthcare providers at the Dorn VAMC failed
to provide appropriate mental health care to Mr. Bigham and that they should have taken steps to
provide him involuntary or voluntary inpatient treatment on several occasions. Plaintiff further
alleges that the failure of Dorn VAMC to have Mr. Bigham involuntarily committed resulted in
his death on October 19, 2014 from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the head.
The circumstances leading up to and surrounding this incident have been
thoroughly investigated by investigators, medical professionals, and attorneys representing the
That the Plaintiff/Petitioner and the attorneys for the settling Defendant have
arrived at an agreed settlement for the decedent’s claims against the settling Defendant in these
claims and Insurer(s) or any of its insured individuals and entities as a result of the said
treatment. That the agreed settlement and compromise contemplates the release, ending and
termination of all claims and actions based on causes surviving to Anna Bigham, as the Personal
Representative of the Estate of Mills Palmer Bigham, or any person, in any way arising, asserted
or brought under or by virtue of any South Carolina or Federal statute, or by common law against
the settling Defendant, in these claims and Insurer(s) or any of its insured individuals and
entities. The total amount paid by the Defendant is the amount of $400,000.00.
The Defendant has liability coverage for this claim.
The Petitioner agrees to release defendants from any and all liability as a result of
settling this claim with the Plaintiff/Petitioner.
The Petitioner is not aware of any claims filed against this estate.
With respect to the $400,000.00 of the total settlement, $400,000.00 shall be
allocated to wrongful death.
The attorneys for the Petitioner shall receive $100,000.00 as payment of attorney
fees and the amount of $36,193.39 as costs incurred during the representation of the Petitioner in
Under South Carolina’s Wrongful Death Statute, Margaret Palmer and John
Bigham are Mills Bigham’s heirs at law. Margaret Palmer survived Mills Bigham by 120 hours
and left all of her possessions to Anna Bigham. Accordingly, both Anna and John Bigham are
entitled to 50% of the total settlement funds.
Previously, 50% of the settlement funds were allocated to Plaintiff’s survival
cause of action. The beneficiaries of Mr. Bigham’s estate are John Bigham and Margaret Palmer
(who survived her son by more than 120 hours). Ms. Palmer died with a will, leaving all of her
possessions to Anna Bigham.
This Court approved a settlement recognizing John Bigham as the sole
beneficiary of the Estate as it was made not clear during the hearing that Ms. Palmer survived her
son by more than 120 hours.
Counsel for Plaintiff requests an Amended Order reflecting the appropriate
distribution of funds and placing all of the settlement funds on Plaintiff’s wrongful death claim.
Mr. Bigham and Anna Bigham should receive the following total amount from
the $263,806.61 settlement as follows:
a. John Bigham: $131,903.30
b. Anna Bigham as the designated heir of Margaret Palmer:
The Petitioner has agreed to dismiss with prejudice all claims asserted in the
Lawsuit against all named Defendants in this matter.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that this Court
approves the settlement proposal as presented herein.
The settlement is approved as stated and this Court concludes this matter and forever
forecloses any further action against these named Defendants arising from medical care the
decedent, Mills Palmer Bigham received, and any other claims that were or could have been
asserted in the Lawsuit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
March 20, 2015
Columbia, South Carolina
Joseph F. Anderson, Jr.
United States District Judge
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