State News

Family sues Fayetteville VA after vet kills wife, self

Posted December 21, 2014
Updated December 22, 2014

Paul Wade Adams Sr. and Cathy Adams in an undated family photo (Photo courtesy of Fayetteville Observer)

— The Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Medical Center failed to provide proper care and follow-up treatment before a veteran killed his wife, then himself, according to a lawsuit filed last week.

The family of 62-year-old Paul Wade Adams Sr. of Lumberton filed the lawsuit Wednesday, seeking $40 million.

According to the lawsuit, Adams went to the Fayetteville VA in June 2012 and was prescribed Zoloft after complaining of suicidal thoughts. A few weeks later, he tried to shoot himself and spent several days in the VA's psychiatric unit, where records show Adams had thoughts or plans about killing other people.

Adams killed his 56-year-old wife, Cathy, then himself on July 18, 2012.

The lawsuit says that the VA switched Adams' medication and released him without doing enough observation to see if it was working or warning his family he could be violent. The lawsuit also says that the VA was negligent in part because it didn't make sure Adams didn't have access to guns after he was released.

Officials at the VA declined to discuss the lawsuit.

Todd Conormon, one of the attorneys representing the family, said the two sides will likely pursue mediation in the case, but if it can't be settled out of court, he expects to go to trial sometime next year.


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  • JennyB Dec 22, 2014

    Why blame the VA? Because he was put into inpatient treatment, had his meds changed, and was released too early for side effects to be seen. Some of the anti-psychotic drugs can have severe side effects that make a bad situation worse. My previous ASTHMA medication caused hallucinations and was banned in the UK because people were committing suicide. The VA dropped the ball and released him too soon. As for the guns, there isn't enough information about his personal life known to pass judgment. He may have had 360 great days and 5 bad days throughout the year. And with this being the VA, this is probably a situation where it took over a year for him to be seen anyway.

  • 678devilish Dec 22, 2014

    Why blame the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs for this mans actions? Why was their guns around him if he had such a problem? Put the blame where it belongs, on the man that killed his wife and himself.

  • Alexia Proper Dec 22, 2014
    user avatar

    Shouldn't the family have taken away the man's guns? If my family member tried killing themselves, I'd toss out all guns and knives. I might go with plastic sporks.

  • lessismore Dec 22, 2014

    GMAN007...... I agree completely with your statement. What happens when a criminal is released from prison? Is it the judge's or jury's fault if the criminal kills someone after being released early? We need to stop blaming everything and everyone except the person that committed the crime.

  • justabumer Dec 22, 2014

    Who is the attorney who is representing the family?

  • tri123 Dec 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Part of what they allege, per the article, is that they did not have knowledge of the danger. Also, the assumption that ready access to a gun does not influence the likelihood of suicide is incorrect. Logically that should make sense, but there's also plenty of research to support the idea. Since America has ten 9/11's in suicides Every Year, we could probably spare some of the money we spend on war for spending on saving our citizens. Note that a bill to improve prevention of suicides by veterans was shot down in congress earlier this month.

  • gman007 Dec 22, 2014

    Don't know what the VA could have done about his guns, but supposing they could have and did take them, then the guy stabbed himself and his wife to death. Would the VA then be sued because they didn't take away his steak knife??? This has 'ambulance chaser' written all over it.

  • lessismore Dec 22, 2014

    Shouldn't the family have made sure Mr Adams did not have guns in the household? Why blame the VA for something they had knowledge of? It is almost impossible to stop someone from obtaining a gun if they want one.

  • miseem Dec 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Right. It would have taken two years, countless hearings and thousands of complaints about taking away his second amendment rights before they could have confiscated his guns. Then, all he would have needed to do was go on line, or in the parking lot of a gun show and bought another gun.

  • Grand Union Dec 22, 2014

    The lawsuit also says that the VA was negligent in part because it didn't make sure Adams didn't have access to guns after he was released.

    Given the virtual "free for all" for guns in the US its hard to see how the VA could have stopped him getting a gun.