North Carolina officials have agreed to pay a $425,000 settlement to the family of a man who was declared dead, placed in a body bag and sent to a morgue only to be discovered later to still be alive.
WGHP News reports Larry Green’s family believes the mistake by the medical examiner in the case left Green paralyzed and with severe brain damage.
Green was hit by a car in January 2005. Emergency responders found him lying face down and bleeding from a head wound.
A paramedic reported finding no vital signs and the medical examiner, Dr. J.B. Perdue, 77, pronounced him dead at the scene. Witnesses later said they saw Green’s chest moving at the scene and Perdue explained that the movement came from “air escaping the body.”
Green was zipped into a body bag and sent to the morgue. Again, he showed signs of life. His eyelid twitched, but Perdue dismissed that as a muscle spasm “like a frog leg jumping in a frying pan.”
It wasn’t until a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer stopped by the morgue later to gather more information and Green was removed from a morgue refrigerator that the mistake was discovered. Perdue and the officer arranged to have Green rushed to a nearby hospital.
Green, now 39, lives in a nursing home, requiring daily care. He remains unable to walk or talk, according to the Charlotte Observer.
His family settled with Franklin County, the local EMS and two paramedics in 2009 for $1 million.
According to an affidavit filed by Green’s father in connection with the suit, the family has accumulated $650,000 in medical bills while caring for the injured man.
Perdue maintains that he did nothing wrong and that “it is not the ME’s job to pronounce people dead.”
He resigned three years later from his post and was never disciplined for his mistake. He said he is being wrongly blamed by “ambulance-chasing lawyers.”
When the Observer asked if felt guilty about what happened, he replied, “Hell no.”
Photo Credit: Family photo via Charlotte Observer, WikiCommons