Class Action Lawsuit Over Deaths at Hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina settles

Posted on: March 30th, 2011 by Steve Larson

After the first day of trial, Tenet Healthcare Corp., the third- largest publicly traded hospital chain, agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over patient deaths at a New Orleans medical center in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Families of patients who died sued the company over the actions of officials at Memorial Medical Center in August 2005. At least 34 patients died at the hospital after the hurricane knocked out power and the temperature inside the building rose to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The hospital’s windows couldn’t be opened.

The family of Leonard Preston, who sued on behalf of people who were at the hospital or had a relative who died, claimed the center wasn’t prepared to care for patients and had no emergency plan to evacuate. Patients waited four days to be rescued. A trial began on March 22, 2011 in state court in New Orleans with jury selection.

Both sides agreed to keep the terms confidential until the court preliminarily approves the settlement. The lawsuit filed in 2005 was the first against Tenet to go to trial. The Dallas-based company settled 11 other cases over Katrina.

Katrina, the third-deadliest U.S. hurricane, flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, killing 1,800 people in Louisiana and Mississippi and causing more than $80 billion in damage.

The case is Preston v. Tenet Healthcaresystems Memorial Medical Center Inc., 05-11709-B-15, Civil District Court, New Orleans Parish.