Katrina wrongful death case settles

Alejandro De Los Rios May 27, 2010, 9:21am

Di Leo

NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - On the second day of defense testimony, a suit that involved the death of a woman in a New Orleans East hospital during 2005's Hurricane Katrina settled today in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Lamar Edwards sued Methodist Hospital and its owner, United Health Services, Inc., on behalf of his deceased mother, Lorraine Edwards, who was recovering from a partial amputation of her leg when Katrina struck.

Lorraine Edwards allegedly died after the hospital lost power, the fuel pump to its emergency generator lost power and she had to be operated on under flashlights and then transported to Louis Armstrong International Airport.

New Orleans attorneys Val Exnicios, Jennifer Eagan and James Carte represented Lamar Edwards and Gregory Di Leo represented the estate of Lorraine Edwards.

New Orleans attorneys David Bowling, Kathryn Wasik, Ernest Gieger Jr., and Leah Taschek represented UHS and Methodist Hospital.

Judge Paulette Irons presided over the case. The settlement documents were sealed.

Had the trial gone to jury verdict, it could have had major implications for New Orleans area hospitals' emergency preparedness plans. Methodists' hurricane plans came under fire in the Edwards case, with the plaintiffs alleging that the hospital was negligent in several areas concerning how the facility would stand up to a hurricane.

On the first day of defense testimony, Bowling admitted on the record that he had talked with Lorraine Edwards' nurses before the trial in an apparent violation of the Hippocratic Oath. The plaintiff attorney's moved to strike the nurses as witnesses and Irons ruled in their favor.

Testimony during the trial revealed that administrators at Methodist Hospital were aware that their fuel pump would not be able to withstand more than three or four feet of water (the same amount that surrounded the hospital after Katrina) and did nothing to remedy the situation.

It was also revealed that Larry Graham, the hospital CEO at the time, was on a fishing trip just two days before Katrina made landfall and just a few hours after the storm was forecast to hit New Orleans.

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