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November 15, 2013

News Briefs November 15, 2013

VA pays out more than $800 million for malpractice

An analysis shows that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has paid out about $845 million in malpractice cases during the past 10 years.

Reporters for Cox Media Group analyzed federal treasury data and found taxpayers spent more than $800 million paying 4,426 veterans and their family members who brought malpractice claims against the VA medical system since 2003.

In 2012, a total of 454 financial settlements and awards added up to $98.3 million.

VA officials say they manage one of the nation’s largest medical networks, and the number of malpractice claims is relatively low. In 2012, the VA treated more than 6.3 million veterans and had 1,544 claims filed. AP

Four Marines die during safety sweep at Calif. base

A routine sweep to make a range safe for future training exercises at California’s Camp Pendleton Nov. 13 led to the deaths of four Marines who were trying to clear unexploded ordnance, a Marine official said.

There was no live firing on the range at the time of the periodic sweep of explosive materials, said a Marine official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Base officials released no details on the 11 a.m. accident. Authorities were investigating the cause.
The identities of the dead were withheld pending notification of relatives.

We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines lost today in this tragic accident, said Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Our first priority is to provide the families with the support they need during this difficult time.

The deaths come about eight months after a mortar explosion killed seven Marines during a live-fire training exercise in Nevada.

A military investigation determined human error was to blame for that accident. According to the probe’s findings, a Marine operating a 60 mm mortar tube and ammunition did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position.

The investigation also determined the mortar team involved in the accident had not conducted appropriate preparatory training. AP

Lockheed Martin cutting 4,000 jobs, closing plants

Lockheed Martin is cutting 4,000 jobs, about 3.5 percent of its workforce, as the defense contractor continues to look for ways to lower costs amid reduced government spending.

Bethesda, Md.,-based Lockheed Martin said Nov. 14 that it will close plants in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as four buildings in a California campus, by mid-2015, eliminating 2,000 jobs.

Another 2,000 positions will be cut in its information systems and global solutions, mission system and training and space systems units by 2014′s end.

Work will be transitioned to other Lockheed plants, and some employees will move to other facilities.
Lockheed Martin said it has cut its workforce to 116,000 employees from 146,000 since 2008. AP

Northrop Grumman: 80 job openings in Louisiana

Northrop Grumman’s Lake Charles, La., Maintenance and Modification Center is looking to hire at least 80 people by January to help perform additional maintenance on aircraft refueling tankers known as the KC-10 Extender.

The American Press reports site director Marty Thompson said Nov. 12 the Lake Charles plant will be doing double the work that they’re doing now over the next two years.

Thompson says major inspections are done every two years on the KC-10 planes. Workers at the Lake Charles site have performed maintenance on the aircraft since 2009.

Thompson said the company will likely interview students who complete an apprenticeship program that Sowela Technical Community College started Monday. He said Northrop Grumman officials have also visited schools in Lafayette that offer technical training. AP




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