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San Francisco reneges on settlement after plaintiff dies

Fair compensation which a plaintiff receives from a personal injury lawsuit is intended to make him or her “whole” again, at least from a monetary perspective. For many victims of medical malpractice, this means reimbursement for already-incurred costs like hospital bills and repayment of lost wages, as well as anticipated future expenses like health care aids.

In a valid medical negligence case that is now making news in San Francisco, the city and county are refusing to make payment in a case they agreed to settle, where the wrongfully injured plaintiff died before the final paperwork was completed, but after the city had agreed to make payment.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city County of San Francisco and its city attorney’s office under the leadership of Dennis Herrera is refusing to pay its part of a $1.5 million settlement it reached with a former patient at San Francisco General Hospital, after the patient committed suicide earlier this year.

The plaintiff became paralyzed after hospital staff roughly moved his body from a gurney to an MRI table, he said in his malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the University of California system. He also accused his doctors of failing to monitor his brain and spine properly.

The parties settled the suit, but before the city made its share of the payment ($900,000), the plaintiff committed suicide. Arguing that the money was earmarked for the man’s care, the city now says it has no obligation to honor the settlement.

The attorney plans to restart negotiations with the city this month. A breach of contract suit is possible.