Senior Content Editor
@roxipowellWe've heard of putting something on ice, but this is just ridiculous! An 80-year-old woman, who was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest by hospital staff, surprised funeral-goers when they arrived to pay their respects. Her face and upper body had bruises and cuts that her family claims were not present when they said what they thought to be their final goodbyes. The mortician was unable to cover the worst of the injuries, and the family--rightfully angry--sued the hospital, White Memorial Medical Center, for having "mishandled the 80-year-old woman's body." But recent speculation has brought a new fear to light: that Maria de Jesus Arroyo was still alive when they placed her body in the morgue freezer, and she died trying to escape. The grandmother ultimately froze to death in her attempt to reach freedom. Filing their first official lawsuit against the hospital back in 2011, the Arroyo family discovered their matriarch's struggle from William Manion, a New Jersey pathologist. Backed by the reviews of hospital personnel, Mr. Manion concluded the injuries, combined with her confinement in the freezer, were the cause of death. "I do not believe these wounds could occur postmortem," Manion reported. "There is only one apparent explanation: Mrs. Arroyo was alive when she was placed into a refrigerated unit within Defendant's morgue." Being locked in a freezer would cause anyone to panic, Manion continued, and that "certainly caused Mrs. Arroyo terror and great suffering in her final moments." Scott Schutzman, the Arroyo family's lawyer, withdrew the family's previous charges in light of this new evidence, but filed a second charge for false declaration of death in May 2012. Despite the previous testimony of Mr Manion, a LA County trial judge overlooked the new case, choosing to go with the word of the hospital's own legal representatives. They claim the second case was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations following Mrs. Arroyo's injuries. When the hospital admitted to their false declaration, the case was officially dismissed. But the malpractice suit was reopened by the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday, with officials claiming that the family could not have known about the hospital's false declaration without outside help. The court released an official report on why they reopened the case. "Plaintiffs had absolutely no reason to suspect that the decedent was alive rather than dead when placed in the Hospital morgue and when the disfiguring injuries occurred." Our hearts and prayers go out to the Arroyo family.
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