Los Angeles County officials settle $3 million wrongful death lawsuit

L.A. woman who died in King Harbor emergency room awaiting treatment vindicated.

Los Angeles, CA (JusticeNewsFlash.com)–Los Angeles County supervisors have agreed to settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who died on the waiting room floor of Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Medical Center in L.A. County in May of 2007. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, personal injury attorneys for the family announced the $3 million settlement agreement last week.

Edith Rodriguez reported to the King Harbor emergency room in extreme pain and her complaints were dismissed, by the triage nurse as a non-emergent condition. She was forced to wait for medical treatment by hospital doctors and nurses in the waiting room. Federal regulators, investigating Rodriguez’s negligent death, ruled the hospital violated minimum standards of care and the L.A. Times alerted the American people about the shocking reality of the 43 year-old woman’s death. This was Rodriguez’s fourth visit for extreme abdominal pain to the hospital emergency room in three days.

On May 7, 2009, Rodriguez was discharged from the emergency room and was brought back several hours later by her boyfriend writhing in uncontrollable, relenting pain. Hospital staffers refused to acknowledge her condition. To make matters worse, patients and family members, in the waiting room, called 911 begging for assistance. Video tapes released by hospital officials, after the plaintiff’s attorneys request, showed Rodriguez rolling on the floor in agony for 45 minutes until she died from a perforated bowel.

The blatant medical malpractice of the hospital doctors and nurses, negligence of Los Angeles County 911 dispatchers to recognize an emergency and send officers to the scene, and the alleged civil rights violations by the family’s lawyers led to California officials $3 million settlement of the wrongful death claim. According to investigative reporters, in a 2004 Times report, King Harbor’s continued medical malpractice plus violations of standards of care, forced the county to pay out $20.1 million in malpractice cases between 1999 to 2003. The financial compensation paid, by the county for damages caused to patients and family members at Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Medical Center, was more than any of California’s other public hospitals or the University of California based on patient census.

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About the Author Justice Seeker

Heather L. Ryan, R.N., C.L.N.C- Heather Ryan is a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant with 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Her expertise in reviewing medical records and assisting lawyers with the determination as to whether legal action should be taken provides an invaluable asset to the newsroom. Medical-malpractice, products liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation are some of the recent areas of litigation Ms. Ryan has focused her efforts on. A member of the Florida Justice Association, Heather maintains a long list of certifications and credentials to support her areas of expertise and stays up-to-date with her clinical knowledge working as an emergency room/trauma nurse, at a Level 1, Adult/Pediatric trauma and teaching institution in South Florida.