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Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 4:45pm
Los Angeles, CA — It's a case that sounds like the plot of a horror movie. A family claims a woman was prematurely declared dead at a hospital and woke up in a body bag, only to die in a freezer where her body was stored. Now her outraged and grieving family has received the go-ahead to proceed with its lawsuit, Stacey Butler has more.
Scott Schutzman, Family Attorney, "This is one of the egregious cases we'll ever see."
Placed in a body bag while still alive Scott Schutzman, "This case keeps me awake at night."
Maria de Jesus Arroyo family is suing White Memorial Medical Center in Boil Heights. They claim she was prematurely declared dead and put into the morgue alive, Scott Schutzman, "The mortuary found Maria de Jesus upside down in the body bag which told the expert she was fighting her way out."
The families' court attorney, Scott Schutzman, says the court documents paint a haunting picture of the 80 year-old grandma's final moments and experts hired by the family told the judge Arroyo was actually alive in the hospital's freezer and woke up due to extreme cold and turned herself face down as she struggled, In other words, she ultimately froze to death.
Schutzman says when the mortuary found her, makeup couldn't cover her broken nose and self inflicted facial injuries.
In a 27 page statement, a witness said Arroyo was found in a body bag approximately half way open consistent with her struggle in the body bag to get out.
Arroyo's family initially sued for mishandling the deceased body, but when their experts testified that the injuries could not have occurred after death and that she died, not of a heart attack, but of asphyxiation and hypothermia.
The family filed a new lawsuit for medical negligence and wrongful death. A judge dismissed it. It went to a court of appeals. A judge reversed the case back to court for a jury trial.
Scott Schutzman, "This case deserves a jury verdict and a jury will rule on it."
A trial date has not yet been set. A spokesperson for the hospital says they can't comment on the matter, since it's in litigation.