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  1. #1
    ManImBored is offline Ninja In Training
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    Couple sues after stillborn baby sent to cleaners

    FORT WORTH — A couple is suing a hospital after their stillborn baby was sent with dirty laundry to the cleaners.


    The Huguley Memorial Medical Center of Fort Worth staff took 19 hours to find the missing body, which was unpreserved and by then had been crushed and disfigured, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.


    Kourtney McGee of Cleburne went to Huguley in July because she was bleeding in her second trimester, then gave birth to Jacob Dwayne Robinson. Staff told McGee and Milburn "Pete" Robinson of Alvarado, the baby's father, that the body would be taken the morgue.


    But when the funeral director arrived, he was told the body could not be found. The baby's body was not refrigerated when it got to the morgue but instead was sent to a commercial cleaner with the laundry, according to the suit.


    The lawsuit contends Huguley Memorial Medical Center breached its duty to care for, handle, maintain and/or prepare for burial. The lawsuit alleges negligence, which is the failure to extend ordinary care, and gross negligence, which shows either reckless conduct or conscious disregard for the family's rights.


    The family has sustained "severe emotional distress and mental anguish" and seeks punitive and exemplary damages, according to the lawsuit that does not specify a monetary amount.
    "How could this happen, that these parents lost their child, lost their son — then the hospital doesn't have a procedure or policy in place for dealing with it?" the couple's attorney John David Hart told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


    Dallas attorney Michael Stewart, who is representing Huguley, denied the allegations and said the hospital did nothing inappropriate.


    "Our sympathies go to a family obviously who had a stillborn situation. Everyone feels bad about that," Stewart said, declining to release more information because of the pending litigation.
    "Sometimes doing the right thing, is not doing the right thing."

  2. #2
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    Geez, that is complete stupidity. How could the hospital be so retarded. I would be upset too.
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    How sad for the parents, that is a terrible thing to have happen to them or anyone for that matter.
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    Major negligence, what a thing to have to deal with.

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    213th's Avatar
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    When it's all said and done, I bet (and hope) that the hospital becomes "The Jacob Robinson Memorial Hospital"
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    I would flip out!!! Absolutely uncalled for, I mean WTF!!!
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    Here's where I play devil's advocate, and really kick some sh*t off. An employee at a hospital was horribly negligent, that fact is a given.

    Now then, stipulating that fact:

    Someone tell me what literal and actual damage was done, and what should entitle these folks to millions of dollars in a damage award?

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  9. #9
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    LA still uses civil code, if I recall correctly - French based?

    In English common law - which is what the rest of the country bases it's laws upon, the suit is for emotional trauma - a separate recoverable tort cause.

    In those cases where applicable, the emotional trauma *is* the harm.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    Here's where I play devil's advocate, and really kick some sh*t off. An employee at a hospital was horribly negligent, that fact is a given.

    Now then, stipulating that fact:

    Someone tell me what literal and actual damage was done, and what should entitle these folks to millions of dollars in a damage award?
    I read and re-read the article, but didn't find any monetary amount listed. Even though it's not a requirement for a lawsuit to seek a judgement awarding money, I think it'd be impropable that the lawsuit wasn't seeking a monetary award, even though it wasn't specified. Despite that, I think anyone who has a child would agree that in some way, the hospital needs to be held accountable. An innocent person's life, especially your own childs, is invaluable. I DO NOT AGREE with the mentality of "this sucks, but lets make a quick buck off it" but I DO agree with hitting the hospital where it hurts. I AGREE with a monetary judgement (particularly if it's going to a charity for children or something to that effect OR a fine of some sorts). I AGREE with criminal liability if the party(ies) responsible commited a crime. I AGREE with the hospital losing certifications if applicable. And I CERTAINLY agree with the hospital being held accountable for this. And in my book, crushed and disfigured is literal and actual damage.
    The Huguley Memorial Medical Center of Fort Worth staff took 19 hours to find the missing body, which was unpreserved and by then had been crushed and disfigured, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.
    Not only did these people lose a child, but they were denied the possibility of a viewing, open casket funeral or anything of that sort. That may not be important to everyone, but to some people that is very important for closure. And while that may not be literal or actual, it is still emotional damage, which is very real. But not in anyway made better by any amount of money

    With that said...awarding the family no money means their
    child's life and body has/d no value or respect. Awarding them ANY amount of money means that their child was worth that much. And who are we to value a life? Especially the life of someone elses child? Besides, the true value of life is intrinsic. I'm not saying that the family should get no money. They certainly should get some. But there's no way for me to be able to say how much or little.
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
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    He who has the power, has the money.

  11. #11
    countybear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    LA still uses civil code, if I recall correctly - French based?

    In English common law - which is what the rest of the country bases it's laws upon, the suit is for emotional trauma - a separate recoverable tort cause.

    In those cases where applicable, the emotional trauma *is* the harm.
    Correct, Mac. Louisiana uses what is called a "Napoleonic Code" law system, which is based upon codified statutes and not varied widely by a system of precedents.

    I am aware of the contrasts between English common and Napoleonic law systems, but I am speaking here more about in the literal sense, than the legal.

    I mean I want a reality check here, what was honestly lost or destroyed and by whom, and what is the worth of the actual damages?

    The baby was dead. Nothing that was done could have affected a lump of lifeless tissue. I don't care if it had been put in an oven and slow-roasted, no pain could be felt. The parents were aware of the baby's death. The corpse was recovered, so there was no literal loss of the body. The condition of the corpse upon recovery was poor and unpreserved, but there couldn't have been plans for an open-casket memorial on a second trimester stillborn anyway...

    Where is the loss? Where is the actual harm (aside from the emotional)? What literal damage was done?

    The employee is going to lose a job anyway, surely as long as the hospital's inevitable internal investigation identifies the culprit, so there will be accountability. Public perception of that hospital has certainly been damaged beyond easy repair, so again, accountability is there. The State will most certainly investigate the matter, through a professional medical licensing board or health and welfare department, so again, accountability is certain already, even without a lawsuit or huge reward or settlement, (which is I admit, almost certain).

    I ask again, what are the real damages here?

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
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  12. #12
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    I'm following you.

    I think this fits within the definition of a "negligence tort" because of a breech of duty on the part of the hospital.

    That breech of duty created the emotional harm. We could argue if the emotional harm is a real damage, and that may have merit to those of us who can detach ourselves from the situation.

    Having watched two of my own babies entering the world, I am not capable of that detachment in this situation.

    In this case, if the facts are as stated, I believe this is a true harm. The parents of the child were deprived of a funeral for their little boy, a point which I have been trained to believe is important in recent SIDS training I undertook. (A funeral where they could observe their baby in a reasonable state.)

    The hospital has no Volenti non fit injuria defense, as they were told the baby would be taken to the morgue by an employee of the hospital.

    As for the resulting investigation and likely accountability, I liken that to someone who commits a DUI hit and run and is genuinely remorseful for it. He may not do it again, but we still punish him for it and find a remedy. In this case, I believe (based only on stated facts) that the parents are entitled a remedy.
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  13. #13
    213th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    The baby was dead. Nothing that was done could have affected a lump of lifeless tissue. I don't care if it had been put in an oven and slow-roasted, no pain could be felt. The parents were aware of the baby's death. The corpse was recovered, so there was no literal loss of the body. The condition of the corpse upon recovery was poor and unpreserved, but there couldn't have been plans for an open-casket memorial on a second trimester stillborn anyway...
    Well it would appear that I overlooked a vital fact. Per the reasons you stated, regardless of what happened, there wouldn't have been an open casket memorial to begin with.

    I still maintain that the family is entitled to some form of a settlement. Honestly, still born or not, *I* see the family as being double deprived. If your father or mother died, would you want their body desecrated by the undertaker? I'm guessing probably not. Would you want their body to be lost for 19 hours? Again, I'm guessing no. If they were cremated, and the ashes were mixed up with someone elses, and you were given the wrong ashes, would you not be upset? I would. If it was a closed casket funeral, and you found out that the wrong body was in the casket, would you be upset? Again, I would. In each of those cases, what actual literal damage has been done to you? In reality, you and your goods have not been physically harmed. Just a decaying body with no further purpose. This "lump of lifeless tissue" which has no expectation to anything. But to you, it is still your father, or your mother, and you have a right to be able to honor them. And the people who denied you that right, permanently or temporarily, should be held accountable. To you, this baby may only be a lump of lifeless tissue, but to the parents, it's all they have left of Jacob. You don't have a child grow inside you, or watch your child grow inside a women without being attached to it, even before birth. Or so I would hope. The family was doubly raped, and although no amount of money will ever make that right, money will help them to properly honor and put to rest their child. Provided of course that that is how they use any awarded monies.
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
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    He who has the power, has the money.

  14. #14
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    I think the hospital better go ahead and get their checkbook out. The last thing they want is a jury to hear about a stillborn baby being crushed and sent to the laundry. Absolutely ridiculous!
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    The second trimester issue should be more fully explored.

    Late in the second trimester, an open casket would be viable. Early, not so much so.

    I'll concede I don't have enough information there.
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  16. #16
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    I have kids myself... five of them to be exact. I have watched four born. I understand the shock and tragedy of losing a child, even before viability. The child was stillborn though, no indication of the liability of the medical care providers, whatsoever.

    My question still stands, because no one thus far can give me any literal or actual 'damages' done beyond the emotional and intangible.

    No one can tell me 'why' an entire organization like a hospital system should be jeopardized by the unconscionable act of one minimum wage employee, either, especially when no tangible harm was done. No harm, no foul.

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
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    Wow... that's quite sad.
    May you rest in peace Daddy and may you never hurt again. I love you and miss you and can't wait to see you again.

    12/12/44- 2/26/09

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    I have kids myself... five of them to be exact. I have watched four born. I understand the shock and tragedy of losing a child, even before viability. The child was stillborn though, no indication of the liability of the medical care providers, whatsoever.

    My question still stands, because no one thus far can give me any literal or actual 'damages' done beyond the emotional and intangible.

    No one can tell me 'why' an entire organization like a hospital system should be jeopardized by the unconscionable act of one minimum wage employee, either, especially when no tangible harm was done. No harm, no foul.
    I still maintain that mistreatment of the baby's body is literal and actual damages. The hospital itself isn't/shouldn't pay, but the employee responsible should be covered by the insurance, which will pay. I see your side of it, but I still maintain that the family should get more then a "sorry bout that, better luck next time" and a pat on the back. From the article, it sounds like the lady went their already in labor, so the child being stillborn sounds like it is completely unrelated to the hospital. For all we know, the mother OD'd on something, causing the premature labor, and is going to use any money from the lawsuit to fuel her habit.

    It's not the death thats the issue, but the (seemingly) callous way the body was treated. And how does one put a penalty on it?
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
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  19. #19
    MacLean's Avatar
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    I see all of your points cb, but I still see "damages" and "harm" to be legally separate entities.

    I think the emotional harm is a valid tort.
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  20. #20
    countybear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    I still maintain that mistreatment of the baby's body is literal and actual damages. The hospital itself isn't/shouldn't pay, but the employee responsible should be covered by the insurance, which will pay. I see your side of it, but I still maintain that the family should get more then a "sorry bout that, better luck next time" and a pat on the back. From the article, it sounds like the lady went their already in labor, so the child being stillborn sounds like it is completely unrelated to the hospital. For all we know, the mother OD'd on something, causing the premature labor, and is going to use any money from the lawsuit to fuel her habit.

    It's not the death thats the issue, but the (seemingly) callous way the body was treated. And how does one put a penalty on it?
    Excellent points, 213th, NOW you are thinking with the head and not the emotions, which is precisely what I was hoping would come about. There is always more to a story than the media tells us, and unless we take what we are given in a news story and think through it critically and objectively, we are very often prone to allow our first impressions (often purely emotional), to dictate our reaction to a story. This is often what law enforcement officers face when the headlines read something like "COPS KILL UNARMED TEEN", when the whole truth might be that a 6'3" 19 year old gang enforcer was shot to death trying to take a 5'2" female officer's sidearm away from her.

    If the insurer of an organization pays a settlement, who suffers that loss?

    You also pose a question yourself now, that I will join with you in asking: How does one put assess a penalty or award based strictly on an intangible (emotional) loss?

    The fact is here that by what information we are given, there is really only emotional harm involved, which is entirely subjective. Also, I congratulate you on your recognition that there is also no information given regarding any claimant culpability or comparative negligence.

    maclean:
    I see all of your points cb, but I still see "damages" and "harm" to be legally separate entities.

    I think the emotional harm is a valid tort.
    Very well stated (as usual), maclean, in this situation as in many others, there is certainly a difference between damages and harm. In this case, there are no "actual" damages, but very high emotional responses, and that's what makes a case like this so dangerous to risk managers.

    There is one more point that I want to make about this, but I will withold it for now and wait to see if anyone wants to call me a heartless, cynical, callous bastard before I make it.

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
    - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

    Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
    That from the nunnery
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    To war and arms I fly.
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    The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in representation of his employer, its agencies or assigns. In fact, they probably fail to be in alignment with the opinions of any rational human being.

 

 
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