Larry Green’s nightmare in 2005 only began when he was struck by a car while crossing a highway. After he was mistakingly declared dead, he was put into a body bag and sent to the morgue — only to be discovered as alive hours later. His family is now suing the state. Remarkably, this is not a unique case.
The 2 1/2 hours that Green spent as a presumed dead man produced a host of alleged injuries, though both injuries and negligence are likely to be easy to establish in this case. Interestingly, the officials are contesting who is responsible. The examiner, J.B. Perdue, said it was not his job to determine whethcalled after death,” Perdue said. “Someone else pronounced his death, and the medical examiner is called to investigate the cause and manner of that death. He does not pronounce people dead.” Torts from negligent infliction to emotional distress to negligence to battery should suffice to establish liability.
While it may seem like a plot for some horror film, such mistakes have occurred in other cases. For example, a couple years ago, a sleeping woman was mistaken in British Columbia at a retirement home for her dead roommate. A driver who picks transports the dead from the facility to the morgue didn’t check the woman’s wrist band for identification. The 87-year-old woman was left on a gurney in corridor outside the morgue when a porter saw her move.
Other incidents were referenced by Terra Gerritsen
In a suburb outside Boston, a young woman was discovered dead in her bathtub. The state police were called and they found empty pill bottles beside her. They assumed that her death was due to an accidental overdose, so they zipped her into a body bag and sent her to the morgue. Where, a few hours later, she woke up. As it turns out, being mistaken for dead is not all that rare a phenomenon. I did a news search on Lexis-nexis and discovered case after case of it. In Colorado, a child’s death certificate had just been signed when someone noticed he was breathing. In Georgia, a young man who’d been hit by a car spent a whole night in the morgue refrigerator before someone heard him moving. In New York City, a man was lying on the autopsy table and the pathologist was about to make the first cut when the corpse woke up and grabbed the doctor. It was the doctor who keeled over dead, of a heart attack.
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