The family of a stillborn baby is suing a Minnesota hospital, alleging that workers threw the boy's body away with the laundry instead of cremating it. Each plaintiff is suing for more than $50,000 per person.
In the suit, eight family members say Esmeralda Maria Hernandez delivered stillborn baby Jose on April 3, 2013 at just 22 weeks at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, reports the New York Daily News.
The family reportedly kept the baby with them throughout the night to grieve before handing him over to hospital staff for cremation, which workers promised to do "in a respectful dignified manner," the family said.
But that never happened.
Instead, an anonymous source reportedly told the Red Wing Police Department that the baby's body ended up with Crothall Laundry Services Inc.
"Laundry workers gawked at Baby Jose, took photos of him, and sent pictures of him into cyberspace," said the suit.
He was still wearing a diaper and hospital wristbands.
"Regions knew the baby was Baby Jose, but decided not to tell Baby Jose's family what they had done to him," the Hernandez family said, adding that they only learned the full story when it drew national media attention.
The family said they called Regions to ask if Jose was the baby in the news reports, but administrators would not answer and instead told them to come to the hospital, notes KTSP. The next day, Regions reportedly confirmed that the body was indeed Jose's.
"We want to say again that we are truly sorry for our mistake," the hospital said in a statement, reports KTSP. "We immediately reached out to the family in 2013 to apologize and to try to help ease their loss. We have continued to work with their lawyer -- always open to a reasonable resolution."
The hospital said it "took immediate steps to ensure that this would not happen again," and that it would keep looking into the modified processes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved for it in 2014.
A police report notes that Regions allegedly delivered another baby to the laundry service at around the same time as Jose. Hospital staff reported the possible mishandling of stillborn baby Chang to police on April 19, 2016 having realized what happened while reviewing baby Jose's case.
"Regions Hospital staff reported that these remains were most probably delivered to the same laundry service and have not been located," states the police report. "It is believed these remains were in the same bag and went to the same facility."
Sources: New York Daily News, KTSP / Featured Image: Samuli Lintula with Turun Tekstiilihuolto Oy/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Pexels (2)