Cause of Action Institute Sues VA for Failing to Release Documents Concerning Tomah Medical Center

2017 Pharmacy Malfunction Could Have Put Veterans Lives At-Risk

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 19, 2019) – Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department Veteran Affairs for failing to properly respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request relating to the scandal-ridden Tomah VA Medical Center. The FOIA request, filed more than a year ago, concerned pharmacy operations that could have put countless veterans’ lives at risk.

John Vecchione, president and CEO of Cause of Action Institute:

“Our nation’s veterans deserve the utmost care and respect, and news reports of the Tomah VA Medical Center’s pharmacy center distributing potentially spoiled medicines are deeply concerning. Our veterans and taxpayers demand full transparency about existing and previous challenges concerning this facility and the services the Tomah VA provides to our veterans. Cause of Action Institute is dedicated to exposing corruption and holding government officials accountable, and ensuring our veterans receive the care, concern, and respect they deserve.”


In 2018, Cause of Action Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Tomah VA Medical Center after news reports indicated the center’s outpatient pharmacy center had suffered a “climate-control malfunction” resulting in temperatures in the facility housing medication reaching “97 degrees for at least an hour.” The high temperatures at the facility led to spoilage of the pharmacy’s medical stock, but VA officials continued to distribute medicine “for about four hours.” CoA Institute submitted a FOIA request for all records concerning the failure of the climate control system, as well as efforts to investigate the improper dispensing of potentially damaged medicines.

In May 2018, the VA Great Lakes Health Care System, which oversees the Tomah VA Medical Center, responded to CoA Institute’s FOIA, but withheld and redacted countless documents. CoA Institute filed a timely appeal on Aug. 6, 2018, explaining that the agency had “improperly relied on Exemptions 3, 5, and 6; failed to segregate non-exempt material from responsible records; failed to meet its burden under the FOIA’s “foreseeable harm” standard; improperly redacted portions of records as “non-responsive”; and failed to conduct an adequate search for responsive records.”

To date, the VA has failed to respond to the appeal despite numerous attempts to remind the agency of its statutory responsibility to respond in a timely manner.

Additional Documents:


Cause of Action Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to enhance individual and economic liberty by limiting the power of the administrative state to make decisions that are contrary to freedom and prosperity by advocating for a transparent and accountable government.

Media Contact: Matt Frendewey,