Loss of a loved one spurs new Hurricane Katrina-related suit

Many people on the Gulf Coast would probably like to forget Hurricane Katrina. The event was a deadly and devastating one for many, not only in Louisiana, but in Texas, as well, where many of the displaced residents fled after the storm. Recently, a suit was filed against four different defendants, including a hospital, regarding a patient's death following the catastrophic storm.

According to the suit, the patient had been exposed to unbearable conditions at an infirmary, including sweltering temperatures, inadequate ventilation and unclean surroundings. These circumstances led to the patient's worsened medical condition and resulting death, the suit claims. However, the suit does not claim that one single medical mistake or a sole party was responsible. Rather, the suit involves a set of parties whom it claims failed in different ways, all leading up to the female patient's death.

First, the lawsuit purports, a power generator company failed to completely fill a crucial fuel tank. The hospital, the suit claims, failed to purchase the appropriate amount of fuel for the generator, and also neglected to test the power generator before the hurricane. In addition, the hospital is alleged to have failed to adequately prepare for the power losses associated with storms and flooding.

It was a combination of actions and failures to act that led to the harm done to the patient, the suit asserts. This is not unheard of in a medical malpractice or wrongful death case, because in a medical setting, there are often many different factors that combine to cause an adverse event such as a fatality.

A successful malpractice or malpractice wrongful death case can be a challenge, not only due to multiple defendants, but also due to the fact that most, if not all, defendants will deny responsibility. In this case, one of the defendants blamed the city water system for failing on a crucial date; another called the incident an "act of God" and also argued that the suit's claims did not actually entail bodily harm.

Combating these denials of responsibility usually requires patient determination and a tenacious assertion of a plaintiff's rights. It is important to remember that states impose statutes of limitations that place strict time limits on wrongful death suits, so it's crucial to secure legal help sooner rather than later if one believes a loved one's death was due to medical negligence.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Touro Infirmary sued over Hurricane Katrina patient death; defendants deny negligence," Lizzy Fitzsousa, April 29, 2014

Categories: Wrongful Death