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Family speaks about hospital settlement

April 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The children of a woman who died after screaming in pain for more than a half-hour on the floor of a troubled L.A. County hospital have agreed to a $3 million settlement. The woman's family is now speaking out about this controversial case.Christina Rodriguez and her brother Danny, Edith Rodriguez's children, never imagined that getting a $3 million settlement would be so sad.

"I don't want them to think they can just pay off somebody or give money and they'll be like, 'OK, here you are. You're all right now.' It's not. We would all rather have my mom here," said Danny Rodriguez.

Edith Rodriguez was treated for abdominal pain at King-Harbor Medical Center. She relapsed before she left the grounds. What happened next scandalized the county hospital and led to its closing.

A video recorded the worst of it: The triage nurse ignores Rodriguez. She thinks she's faking it. Despite desperate pleas from Rodriguez's companion and bystanders, she convulses in pain for 45 minutes. County police take her into custody discovering a parole violation. She dies.

"It is hard to realize she's not here, not going to be here," said Christina Rodriguez.

Three adult children will split the settlement, minus legal fees.

Attorney Frank Casco says there was a risk if the suit was taken to trial. A finding of simple malpractice could have capped the family's award at $250,000. And the jury would be limited in another way too.

"You are not allowed to punish the county for what they did and you are not allowed to pay the Rodriguez family for the pain and suffering that their mom experienced," said attorney Frank Casco.

Casco says there is much more to this case. No hospital staff ever faced charges. He's writing a book about an alleged cover-up.

"People should know that it's not over. People are going to know every single bit of facts we can get. And like I said, use that to your advantage and never let it happen again," said Casco. "That's my biggest thing."

"It was never about the money," said Christina. "I wished this never happened. I wish we had my mom instead of the money."


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