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Family alleges negligence after woman freezes to death in morgue

When a loved one passes away, many friends and family members look for an explanation as to what happened. For many people in North Adams, those answers come from a conversation with a doctor. If the death was a result of medical negligence, survivors may have even more questions. Such was the case for one family who was initially led to believe their wife and mother died of a heart attack.

A pathologist determined that the 80-year-old woman actually froze to death in the hospital morgue. She had been placed there after medical personnel declared her dead, though a pathologist said she was not deceased and woke up. She then tried to escape the freezer, and in doing so, she sustained cuts and bruises to her face as well as a broken nose.

When morticians received her body, they saw the injuries and noted that she was positioned face-down. The family initially filed a lawsuit alleging that hospital staff had mishandled her body. After discovering the truth behind what happened, the woman’s husband and eight children withdrew the suit and filed a medical malpractice claim instead. An appellate court supported the family’s right to pursue the suit, overturning a judge’s decision to throw it out on the grounds that the statute of limitations had passed.

Anyone who has suffered as a result of doctor negligence should immediately contact an attorney. A personal injury or wrongful death suit can garner damages to compensate the victims or their families or estates for items such as medical expenses and other costs associated with their worsened conditions.


Source: Insurance Journal, “Malpractice Suit Over Frozen California Woman to Proceed,” April 4, 2014

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