Health

Lawsuit: Grandmother Frozen Alive, Died Trying To Escape Body Bag

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Here’s a strange (and sad) lawsuit for you.

The family of deceased 80-year-old woman Maria de Jesus Arroyo is suing White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, California for prematurely declaring Arroyo dead and freezing her alive.

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Problems with the hospital’s handling of Arroyo first surfaced when morticians received the woman’s body. Her face was covered in cuts and bruises that were far too significant to be covered. When the Arroyos learned of the injuries, they planned to sue the hospital for mishandling the woman's body following her death.

During litigation, a pathologist analyzed Arroyo’s injuries and said they likely occurred while she was still alive. He postulated that Arroyo had been “frozen alive” and “eventually woke up.”

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When Arroyo awoke, the pathologist said, she “damaged her face and turned herself face down as she struggled unsuccessfully to escape her frozen tomb.”

“The mortuary found Maria de Jesus Arroyo upside down in the body bag, which told the expert that she was fighting her way out,” the Arroyo’s family attorney said.

In 2012, a judge threw out the Arroyo’s lawsuit under the reason that the hospital “had absolutely no reason to suspect that the decedent was alive rather than dead when placed in the hospital morgue.”

A judge overturned that ruling this week, though, saying that new information had been presented to the family that changed the circumstances surrounding the lawsuit. The Arroyo’s case has now been overturned to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. 

Sources: LA Times, My Fox 8