Woman Dies Trying To Escape Morgue Freezer After Falsely Being Pronounced Dead

Well, this will make one heck of a lawsuit:

The family of a woman who may have frozen to death after being pronounced dead and placed in a morgue is moving forward with a lawsuit against a hospital that claims their family member “struggled unsuccessfully to escape her frozen tomb.”

Maria de Jesus Arroyo — an 80-year-old grandmother with more than 50 grandchildren — was pronounced dead in July 2010 after suffering a heart attack. A few days later, she was found in a half unzipped body bag, face-down with a broken nose and cuts and bruises to her face — injuries family members said were not there at the time she was hospitalized, according to court papers.

On Wednesday, a California appeals court ruled that the family’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleging the woman’s body was mishandled by the hospital can move forward.

 ”She was put into that body bag while she was alive,” said the family’s attorney, Scott Schutzman. “The cold from the hospital morgue woke her up and she was fighting her way out when she died.”

The lawsuit against White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights alleging wrongful death outlines the family’s account of what happened after Arroyo was found unconscious at her home in July 2010. She was transported to the hospital by ambulance and later declared dead.

The lawsuit claims she was “prematurely” declared dead at the hospital and that she was frozen alive at the morgue before mortuary workers who arrived to transport her found Arroyo face-down in a halfway unzipped body bag. Family members said they did not see lacerations and bruises on her face until viewing her remains at the funeral home

 Yea this one just seems to scream settlement.
FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    Ugh. I don’t really want to get into discussions about terrible ways to die, but this would be pretty close to the top of the list for claustrophobics.

  2. wr says:

    Thank God the Republicans want to pass tort reform so this woman’s greedy relatives won’t be able to sue. Just because their mother was killed is no reason to allow the transfer of money from a medical corporation to the victim’s heirs.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    That’s the hospital where I was born.

    Note to self: go somewhere else to die.

  4. John Peabody says:

    Michael- are you sure you were ‘born’? How are you feeling? No zombie tendencies, I hope. Say…has anyone ever seen Michael eat food?

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @John Peabody:

    Oh, people have seen me eat. You can be sure of that. Now, have they ever seen me stop eating?

  6. Gustopher says:

    Private death panels are woefully ineffective.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Maybe they should employ the Monty Python method for declaring death?

  8. Tillman says:

    Well this is terrifying to ponder.