Hospital Negligence Award of $1.75 Million Precedes Return of Husband’s Heart

Whitney Taylor | September 16th, 2013

New York medical malpractice lawyersA Texas widow who won nearly $2 million in her hospital negligence lawsuit has also won the right to have her deceased husband’s heart returned to her. According to the New York Daily News, Linda Carswell appears to have won her legal battle to obtain the heart that has been kept on ice at St. Catherine Hospital for the past eight years.

Carswell states she did not know the hospital had removed and kept the heart until well after her husband’s burial. When she requested to have the heart returned, the hospital denied her request. That is when Linda Carswell sought help from attorneys in Texas, much like victims of negligence would seek New York medical malpractice lawyers if a hospital in the city refused to cooperate with a patient or the patient’s family.

A history of hospital negligence

In 2004, Carswell’s husband, Jerry Carswell, was hospitalized at Christus St. Catherine’s Hospital with kidney stones. During his stay, Carswell unexpectedly died, and the hospital promised to do a full autopsy to determine the cause of death. Unfortunately, that autopsy did not include a toxicology report, which would have shown whether pain medication Carswell was given by hospital staff during his stay contributed to his death.

Linda Carswell filed a hospital negligence lawsuit against Christus St. Catherine’s, claiming the hospital misled her about what the autopsy would include. She also alleged that negligence by staff led to her husband’s death while he had been admitted there. While a jury ruled the hospital was not responsible for Jerry Carswell’s death, it did find the hospital committed fraud by misleading Linda Carswell about the details of the autopsy. Carswell was awarded $1.75 in damages by that jury in 2010.

Despite that positive verdict, Carswell has yet to secure the return of her husband’s heart. The hospital told her the heart had to remain in the morgue because it could be used as evidence in the lawsuit. However, now that the case has been settled, and Carswell did not appeal the original verdict, there does not appear to be further reason for the hospital to keep the organ. In addition, the New York Daily News reports that the heart could not be used alone as evidence in the negligence case, since there was no way to trace the precise location and care of the organ.

Carswell and her sons want the heart returned for purely emotion reasons. Carswell has chosen a small box to place the organ, so that it can be buried next to her husband. On August 29, a Texas appeals court ruled against upholding the hospital’s stay on returning the heart.  The hospital has said it will not file any further legal action to block the return of the heart to the Carswell family.

New York medical malpractice lawyers

While the details of this case might be unusual, medical malpractice claims have become all too common. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, New York payouts for medical malpractice lawsuits in 2012 totaled $763,088,250. Nearly one-third of all malpractice claims filed in the U.S. during that same year involved wrongful death allegations.

If you have been the victim of  hospital negligence, New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm offer decades of experience representing those who have been injured at the hands of medical professionals. Our team works with residents of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island and Long Island, to ensure they get the legal representation and compensation they are entitled to. Call our law offices for a free evaluation of your case at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY (800.324.7752).


  1. New York Daily News, Texas Widow Still Fighting to get Husband’s Heart Back Nine Years after his Death, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/texas-widow-fighting-husband-heart-back-article-1.1446687

  2. ABC News, Texas Widow Locked in Legal Battle for Late Husband’s Heart, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/texas-widow-locked-in-legal-battle-for-late-husbands-heart/

  3. Pacific Standard Magazine, Meet the Woman Fighting to get her Husband’s Heart Back, http://www.psmag.com/health/meet-woman-fighting-get-husbands-heart-back-65555/