Last week, a judge ruled that the family of late actor Bill Paxton can sue Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for punitive damages.
Years after actor Bill Paxton tragically passed away after undergoing heart surgery, his family was just given the green light to seek punitive damages against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Shortly after the actor’s death, his family sued the hospital over claims it “failed to perform an autopsy as promised in an effort to cover up his cause of death.”
The actor passed away in February 2018 from a stroke “following a heart surgery for aortic aneurysm repair.” The suit was filed in February 2018 and alleges the hospital “and its staff were negligent and his doctor recommended an unconventional surgery that he wasn’t properly trained for and didn’t explain the risks.” On top of that, the family claims the “hospital and Dr. Ali Khoynezhad tried to cover up their negligence by not performing an autopsy — and lied to the company hired for the cremation and memorial service.” When Forest Lawn Memorial Park pointed out that an autopsy was not performed, Khoynezhad allegedly told “the company the family originally planned autopsy but changed their mind.”
The family further alleges in the suit that Cedars and Khoynezhad “made a promise and representation to Plaintiffs that they would perform an autopsy of William Paxton…with no intention to perform an autopsy on William Paxton so they could conceal their role in causing the death of Mr. Paxton.”
The family alleges Cedars and Khoynezhad “made a promise and representation to Plaintiffs that they would perform an autopsy of William Paxton…with no intention to perform an autopsy on William Paxton so they could conceal their role in causing the death of Mr. Paxton.” To make matters worse, they didn’t find out “an autopsy hadn’t been done until Paxton had already been cremated and were horrified by the revelation.”
For the next couple of years the plaintiffs and hospital went back and forth through the litigation process, and last October the hospital “filed a motion for summary adjudication of the claim, arguing that the family can’t seek punitive damages against the hospital because they haven’t met the standards required to hold the company accountable for its employee’s conduct.” Cedars further argued that “they do not allege that any corporate officer or member of the board of directors had any role in the decisions concerning whether Paxton received an autopsy at Cedars or in communicating with the mortuary related to the family’s wishes concerning an autopsy.”
However, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Steven J. Kleifield ruled in favor of the family earlier this month when he found “Cedars ignored the key allegation: that the family was deceived.” He wrote:
“Cedars submits no evidence as to who made the misrepresentation to Plaintiffs, who was involved in making the misrepresentation, or who was involved in the decision to not perform the autopsy…The deception to Forest Lawn was only one act alleged to have been made in furtherance of the fraud against Plaintiffs. Cedars does not address the primary allegation against it. It, therefore, has not carried its burden on summary adjudication.”