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Tue January 5, 2010
Lawsuit begins over Memorial Hospital death after Hurricane Katrina
By Eileen Fleming
New Orleans, La. – The family of a 73-year-old woman who died at the former Memorial Methodist Hospital claims it was negligent by not protecting its power sources from floods. The woman died after her ventilator shut down and nurses had to pump her lungs with oxygen by hand and in the pitch dark. More than 100 people died at New Orleans hospitals and nursing homes after the 2005 storm. About 200 lawsuits allege the facilities are at fault for not preparing for floods and evacuations. The Louisiana State Supreme Court denied the hospital's argument that the case should be considered under medical malpractice laws, which cap liability at $500-thousand dollars. Evidence in the lawsuit included a letter from a hospital official written three years before Katrina that warned the generators were at risk from floods. For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.