Misdiagnosed Cervical Cancer
Katchatag v. United States of America
United States District Court, Anchorage, Alaska
Elena Katchatag died from cervical cancer which had been misdiagnosed at a U.S. government operated medical facility. She left behind three young children in a small village in western Alaska. At the pretrial settlement conference, the attorney for the government told Haas that "a dead native was worth no more than $300,000."
Unconvinced, angry and inspired, Mr. Haas flew to Nome, Alaska where he transferred to a smaller plane, fitted with skis, for the flight to Shaktoolik. After landing on an icy runway below a dark winter sky, he was met by villagers with a dog sled pulled by a snowmobile for the trip into town to meet Mrs. Katchatag's family.
Haas was introduced to many of the 180 or so inhabitants of the town and learned about Mrs. Katchatag and the Alaska Native culture. The villagers told him about whaling in small boats and how they preserved salmon to get through the long, cold winter months. By day's end, Haas was determined to prove the government trial attorney's disrespectful statement incorrect.
When the villagers arrived in federal court in colorful native dress to testify about Mrs. Katchatag, the court had no choice but to listen. And when the government attorney called for a small sum, the judge rejected it and awarded over $1 million to the Katchatag family.
Resolution: $1 Million
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