North Carolina officials have agreed to pay a $425,000 settlement to a man who was mistakenly declared dead, put into a body bag, and sent to a morgue.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the settlement is the result of a lawsuit brought by Larry Green’s family, which claims the medical examiner’s mistake left him paralyzed and resulted in severe brain damage.
Green was hit by a car in January, 2005, in Franklin County, North Carolina. When emergency workers arrived at the scene, he was lying face down, bleeding from a head wound. Upon checking him, one of the paramedics found no vital signs.
When medical examiner Dr. J.B. Perdue arrived, he opened Green’s jacket and shirt to examine him and declared him dead.
Fox 8 reports that eight witnesses at the scene say they saw Green’s chest and stomach move during the examination, but when one of the paramedics asked if he could still be breathing, he was told by Perdue, “That’s only air escaping the body.”
Perdue then told authorities to put Green in a body bag and sent him to the morgue.
Court documents state that other witnesses saw Green’s eye twitch multiple times after he arrived at the morgue, but when questioned if he were still alive, Perdue said it was a muscle spasm, “like a frog leg jumping in a frying pan.”
Green was placed in a morgue refrigerator until later that evening, when Perdue removed him after a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper asked him to do so because more information was needed for the accident report.
It wasn’t until then that Perdue realized the man was still alive, and he received medical attention for his injuries.
Green’s family has spent years in court trying to recoup his medical expenses, and settled with Franklin County EMS and two paramedics for $1 million in 2009. His father filed the complaint against the state in 2008.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services officials say the settlement “avoids the emotional toll and expense of a lengthy trial.” They also claim this is the first time in the Medical Examiner system’s almost 50-year history that anyone has collected damages due to a flawed investigation.
Dr. Purdue, the 77-year-old medical examiner, told the Charlotte Observer that he has been wrongly accused by “ambulance-chasing lawyers.”
When Perdue was asked if he felt guilty about declaring Green dead, causing the delay in his receiving medical attention, the medical examiner said, “Hell no.”
In a similar Inquisitr story, a Chinese newborn survived being buried alive when her parents mistakenly thought she was stillborn.
[Image via Law Info]