Plaintiff's estranged mother Mary O'Leary died in a Brooklyn, NY hospital of terminal cancer, after a 15 day hospitalization. Before plaintiff was notified of her mother's death approximately three months after the fact, the hospital donated O'Leary's body to medical research, as they claimed they were unable to identify the person. The remains were buried in an unknown location in Potter's Field.
Plaintiff sued the hospital claiming they negligently failed to identify her mother's corpse and failed to properly complete the certificate of death. Plaintiff maintained that as a result, she suffered mental anguish, depression, anxiety and deprivation of her right to properly grieve the loss of her mother.
Plaintiff further claimed, that after failing to properly complete the certificate of death and incorrectly listing her mother as a black female, the hospital retrieved five documents belonging to O'Leary. The retrieved documents included, among other things, O'Leary's driver's license. Plaintiff contended that the hospital even used the information from the retrieved documents to get paid by Medicare, but did not correct the death certificate.
The defendant hospital maintained that O'Leary consistently refused to disclose her identity and may have done so, to prevent her family from learning of her whereabouts and impending demise. Further, that O'Leary's death occurred at a time in which the hospital was challenged to find beds for all of its patients, and as such the hospital had to expedite the completion of the death certificate and removal of the body.
The jury brought back a verdict in favor of defendant. Apparently, the jury believed that plaintiff's claimed damages and anxiety/depression, emanated from bereavement syndrome and not the claimed inability to mourn her mother's death.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.