Lawsuit: Woman frozen alive in morgue died trying to escape

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LOS ANGELES — The family of an 80-year-old woman is suing a Los Angeles hospital after a pathologist determined that she was “frozen alive,” “eventually woke up” and injured herself as she struggled unsuccessfully to escape from the morgue, according to court records.

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 makeup, according to court papers.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday overturned a trial judge’s earlier decision to throw out the family’s lawsuit alleging the hospital had mistakenly declared her dead and froze her while she was still living, reviving the legal claim.

The trial judge had sided with the hospital’s attorneys that the suit was filed too late, beyond the one-year statute of limitations after the family discovered Arroyo’s injuries.

The hospital has not addressed the allegation that Arroyo was prematurely declared dead, according to court records.

The case now returns to Los Angeles County Superior Court for further proceedings.


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