Medical Malpractice Settlement Revealed in the Death of Astronaut Neil Armstrong

On July 16, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong and the rest of the crew of Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy with the goal of being the first humans to land on the moon.  On July 20th the goal was reached, in what would be deemed “one small step for man, one giant leap for man-kind.”   Upon returning to earth, the astronauts were seen as American heroes.  Unfortunately, in 2012, Neil Armstrong passed away after undergoing an emergency heart surgery at a Cincinnati Ohio hospital.

Just days after the 50th anniversary of the monumental feat, new reporting has been released that Armstrong’s family received a substantial medical malpractice settlement from the hospital in 2014.  A 93 page report was anonymously sent to the New York Times which revealed further details into that settlement.

The settlement was preceded by a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the two sons of the famed astronaut against the hospital which was commenced shortly after his death.  According to the report, two weeks before Armstrong’s death, he had undergone cardiac bypass surgery.  Initial reports were that he was recovering. However, the lawsuit alleged that when nurses went to remove temporary wires in place to help pace his heartbeat, Armstrong began to bleed internally and his blood pressure dropped. Rather than conduct emergency surgery, the hospital staff decided to take the 82-year-old to a catheterization lab where they drained blood from around his heart.  After that procedure was not successful, he was transferred to an operating room.  It is not clear what was done in that room, but the astronaut passed just one week later.

At the time of his death, the Astronaut’s family stated that Armstrong had passed due to “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.”  But according to the new reporting, medical experts believed the hospital’s decision not to immediately bring him into the emergency room when he began to experience bleeding is what lead to his death. The report goes on to describe that the Armstrong family had told the hospital that had the hospital not settled the case, they would mention the treatment at the 45th anniversary of the moon landing scheduled for July 2014.

Despite denying the malpractice claim, the hospital agreed to pay $6 million to the family to settle the matter. This $6 million settlement is substantial for a medical malpractice claim, but legal experts contribute the large settlement to the great stature of Neil Armstrong.  Even following the news being revealed, it should be noted that the hospital did not produce any expert reports and it is unclear if the hospital is indeed at fault.  Overall, the case shows that even American heroes are subject to the malpractice of a hospital, and relief is possible for everyone.

If your loved one has died as a result of a medical error, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who will advise you of your legal rights and remedies. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC are experienced in representing New York City and Long Island residents in medical malpractice and wrongful death matters. To schedule a free consultation, contact our New York City wrongful death lawyers at (212) 687-2777 or for our Long Island wrongful death lawyers call (516) 294-8282.

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