Jury rules against Cheyenne River Sioux man in 'KKK' scar case

The Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota. Photo from City-Data

A jury in federal court ruled against Vernon Traversie, a blind member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe whose surgical scars resemble the letters "KKK."

But the 71-year-old man said his civil rights case nonetheless represents a victory for Indian people in South Dakota. He sued the Rapid City Regional Hospital after he felt mistreated following emergency open heart surgery in August 2011.

"For me this is a victory in itself," Traversie said in a statement. "I shared my story about what happened to me while I was a patient at the Rapid City Regional Hospital for one reason: to make sure that no other American Indian is treated in an uncaring way."

"I believe because I stood up for justice, powerful institutions in Rapid City have learned that American Indians have a voice and we are not afraid to call for justice," Traversie added.

The hospital denied wrongdoing in the case. Officials said the scars resulted from a reaction to medical grade tape.

"You need to understand this, mine is just one case in the fight for civil rights for American Indians in South Dakota," Traversie said. "It is one part of the long standing struggle for the dignity and respect that American Indian men, women, and children in South Dakota deserve, just like anybody else. We are asking for nothing more than what most people take for granted: human rights."

Get the Story:
Jury Rules Against Vern Traversie; ‘A Victory In Itself’ He Says (Indian Country Today 3/30)
Hospital accused of carving KKK into an elderly blind man's stomach during heart surgery found 'not liable' by federal jury (The Daily Mail 3/27)
Jury rules in favor of Regional Hospital in Traversie case (KEVN 3/27)
Jury Rules Against Man Who Claims Hospital Workers Battered Him (Newscenter 1 3/27)
Closing arguments heard in federal court in Vernon Traversie case (KEVN 3/26)

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