Family Awarded $4.5 Million in Wrongful Death Suit

Family Awarded $4.5 Million in Wrongful Death Suit

The family of a women who died in a hospice after receiving large dosages of painkillers for a misdiagnosed cancer, was awarded $4.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Hospice Ministries and the medical director.

According to the lawsuit, Ersel Allen, 66, died in 2001 after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which an autopsy found she never had.

After her misdiagnosis, Allen was ordered to stay at Hospice Ministries Inc. where employees overdosed her on Dilaudid, a painkiller for cancer, which directly resulted in her death.

The jury awarded Allen’s family $4 million in monetary compensation and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Reitha Sanders, Allen’s daughter who filed the suit, was pleased with the jury’s verdict.

“I can’t bring my mother back, but the jury verdict will send a message to doctors,” Sanders said. “She might have been alive today if it wasn’t for their misdiagnosis and feeding her with the painkillers. If they would have been doing their job right, they wouldn’t be in this courtroom.”

Hospice attorney Ray McNamara vehemently denied the allegations claiming that Allen was very ill in the last days of her life. “She didn’t die of an overdose; this lady died of a number of things,” McNamara said.

However, plaintiff attorney Dennis Sweet believed that the dosages of the painkiller that were given to Allen were two to three times more potent than heroin. “If they shortened her life one day, they are liable,” Sweet said.

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