By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
The family of a woman who may have been prematurely declared dead, awoke in the hospital’s freezer and struggled before ultimately freezing to death can go forward with a lawsuit against the hospital, an appellate court has ruled.
Maria de Jesus Arroyo, 80, was pronounced dead in July 2010 at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights after suffering a heart attack. When morticians received her body a few days later, they found her body facedown, with her nose broken and cuts and bruises to her face, injuries so severe they could not be covered up by make-up, according to court papers.
Arroyo’s husband and eight children initially sued the hospital alleging the body had been mishandled after her death. But during litigation, a pathologist who reviewed Arroyo’s injuries concluded the injuries most likely occurred while she was still alive – that she had been “frozen alive,” “eventually woke up” and “damaged her face and turned herself face down as she struggled unsuccessfully to escape her frozen tomb,” according court records.