Skip to comments.Grandmother Wrongly Declared Dead, Frozen Alive in Hospital Freezer Before Struggling to Escape
Posted on 04/04/2014 3:19:56 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Maria de Jesus Arroyo was moved into a morgue freezer while she was still alive, court documents claim. She froze to death while trying to break free from her body bag. The family intends to sue.
A grandmother, Maria De Jesus Arroyo, who was prematurely declared dead later awoke in a hospital's freezer and desperately struggled to get out before eventually freezing to death, according to court documents. Maria De Jesus Arroyo, 80, was prematurely declared dead by a Los Angeles hospital following a 2010 heart attack. Court documents claim she woke up in a freezer and struggled to escape.
A grandmother prematurely declared dead woke up in a hospital's freezer and "struggled unsuccessfully to escape her frozen tomb" before dying, according to Los Angeles court documents.
The horrifying discovery came after Maria de Jesus Arroyo's body was allegedly presented to her family disfigured with a broken nose and scars on her face so severe a mortuary wasn't able to mask their appearance. The 80-year-old married mother of eight had suffered a heart attack on July 26, 2010 when a doctor at Boyle Heights' White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles declared her dead.
When her mysteriously bruised body was returned to her heart-broken family for her funeral, they assumed it had been abused by hospital staff and contacted an attorney for help.
She was placed in the body bag while she was alive
"I sued for mishandling," attorney Scott Schutzman told the Daily News.
The hospital in turn, he said, "filed a motion to get out of the case saying there are red fleshy substances [in her wounds] ... therefore she must have been alive," he said of the approximated timing of her injuries. Schutzman said he immediately consulted his own expert to verify their claims and to his horror, learned that their review concluded the same: "She was placed in the body bag while she was alive," he said.
Arroyo's family filed a lawsuit against Boyle Heights' White Memorial Hospital (pictured) which was dropped because of a ruling on the statute of limitations. On Wednesday, that decision was overruled. "Shock is not the word," he said of his own reaction. "I was horrified."
The expert, cited in court documents appealing a lawsuit filed by the family, concluded that "the decedent 'had been prematurely declared dead' by Dr. John Plosay and the Hospital staff, 'frozen alive' in the Hospital's freezer, 'eventually woke up' due to the extreme cold, and 'damaged her face and turned herself face down as she struggled unsuccessfully to escape her frozen tomb.'"
Schutzman reacted by withdrawing his original lawsuit against the hospital for mishandling and filed a second for mistakenly declaring her dead and freezing her while still alive.
It's the most egregious of cases and they're limited to $250,000
By this time, however, nearly 17 months had passed since her 2010 death and attorneys for the hospital defended that a one-year statute of limitations had long expired for a case.
A trial judge agreed and dismissed the family's suit filed in May 2012 before it was taken to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
On Wednesday, in a decision called "gratifying" by Arroyo's family, the trial judge's decision was overturned, allowing the family to pursue future legal action against the hospital.
"Taking the allegations of the complaint as true, we conclude that it cannot be said as a matter of law that the one-year period began running on or about July 26, 2010, the date of the decedent's death," their decision reads.
Schutzman said Arroyo's family plans to continue legal action, but at the moment are still taking it all in stride. In the last few weeks, he said, the family tragically suffered the death of another family member, "and so every time this stuff comes up, they relive the whole thing."
As far as damages they intend to seek, Schutzman said they are limited to $250,000 due to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, but hopes that will change. "It's the most egregious of cases and they're limited to $250,000," he stressed. "My intention was to get the family justice."
Time to attach electronic bells on the toes of deceased people in case of such?
It was the only "treatment" allowed under Obamacare.
What an indescribably horrible way to die.
Terrifying. I have mild claustrophobia, so this story has haunted me since hearing about it last night.
Prayers for that poor woman.
I don’t think claustrophobia is required to be thoroughly creeped out big time by this story.
” I have mild claustrophobia,”
Moi aussi! I think,,,, spread my ashes in the ocean from Beam Point.
old folks, don’t sleep too soundly. :-)
The headline says she froze before struggling to escape. How did she struggle to escape after freezing to death?
I know it’s a repeat, but I give you the honor.
Help, I’m frozen and I can’t get up...
Vivicryosepulture - yikes!!
I would be haunted by the guilt if I had anything to do with her tragic ending. It was actually the fault of the coroner or whoever the last examining physician was. Sometimes the vital signs can be so very subtle, that they are missed. This is the second or third time I’ve heard of Wrongful Interments this year.
Should we go back to what they did during the civil war era. The morticians were concerned about a high number of Wrongful Interments, so for a small fee, a little bell was installed inside the wooden coffin. The idea was, if the body was only sleeping, and not quite Dead-dead, they could tinkle a little brass bell and alert all parties concerned. Can you imagine being that gravedigger and you start ‘hearing bells?’ Bring your own smelling salts, so’s you don’t faint ‘dead’ away from the shock!
Shockingly, outrageously hilarious.
Give them credit: they corrected the error.