Most Ridiculous Lawsuits: Lakota man sues Rapid City Regional Hospital over surgical scars

Vern Traversie, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, claims in a YouTube video that he discovered three scars on his stomach shaped like the letter K. Three Ks is a common abbreviation for the Ku Klux Klan.

SIOUX FALLS | A lawyer for a Native American man who claims the letters KKK were carved into his stomach during surgery has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the South Dakota hospital where the operation took place, the hospital’s board of directors and others.

YouTube videos featuring 69-year-old Vern Traversie, a Lakota man who lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation, went viral in Native American communities earlier this year. In them, Traversie talks about being mistreated at the hospital and shows his abdomen. Though he himself is blind, Traversie says he was told by others that the scars left after his heart surgery form the letters.

A May rally in support of Traversie drew hundreds of people, many of whom said his story exemplifies the racism Native Americans experience in Rapid City. But others say they can’t make out the letters, including police who investigated his allegations and hospital officials. No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

Chase Iron Eyes, a lawyer for Traversie, filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in South Dakota against Rapid City Regional Hospital, its board of directors, physicians and TRS Surg Assist Inc. The lawsuit alleges a civil rights violation based on race and cites the scarring from Traversie’s double-bypass surgery done in August 2011 as evidence. It seeks a jury trial ...

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