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$35 million lawsuit: VA mental health misdiagnosis cost KC airline pilot his job

Kansas City Star - 9/19/2017

Sept. 19--A Kansas City man has filed suit alleging that he lost his job as an airline pilot after Veterans Affairs doctors misdiagnosed him with bipolar disorder.

William Royster is seeking $35 million in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

It is a refiling of a previous suit that Royster voluntarily dismissed last September.

Royster is a former U.S.Navy pilot who was injured in 1996 when his plane was shot down by a Japanese navy ship during a training exercise.

According to the lawsuit:

After being discharged from the Navy in 1997, Royster received treatment for his injuries at the Kansas City VA Medical Center.

In 1998, he was hired to fly airliners for United Airlines while continuing treatment at the medical center.

After a doctor suggested he be evaluated for possible post traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatrist in 2004 diagnosed him with bipolar disorder. He was told that the diagnosis was permanent and lifelong.

As a result he was medically retired from his job as a pilot.

Over the next 10 years, doctors continued to reaffirm the diagnosis.

But in 2013, after a new psychiatrist took over his case and undertook a thorough review and conducted additional testing, the doctor determined that Royster should never have been diagnosed with the disorder.

Royster made headlines in the Kansas City area in 2010 when he lost an election for the Missouri General Assembly by one vote to John Rizzo. Two of Rizzo's relatives later pleaded guilty to voter fraud after voting in the election although they did not live in the district.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc


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