North Carolina pays up after sending living man to morgue in body bag


Grungy and high contrast photo of morgue trays

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North Carolina officials have agreed to pay $425,000 to a man who was mistakenly declared dead, zipped up in a body bag and sent to a morgue.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the payment settles a lawsuit that alleges a mix-up by the medical examiner left Larry Green paralyzed with severe brain damage.

On Jan. 24, 2005, a car hit Green in Franklin County. Emergency workers found him bleeding and lying face down with a head wound.

A paramedic checked Green and found no vital signs. When Dr. J.B. Perdue, 77, the medical examiner in the Green case, arrived, he opened Green’s jacket and shirt to inspect the body.

Eight witnesses said they saw Green’s chest and abdomen move, but Perdue said, “That’s only air escaping the body.”

Perdue told authorities to put Green in a body bag and transport him to a morgue. At the morgue, Green’s right eyelid twitched multiple times and the question was again raised whether or not he was alive. According to court documents, Perdue said it was a muscle spasm “like a frog leg jumping in a frying pan.”

Later in the evening, Perdue removed Green’s body from a morgue refrigerator to inspect it again because a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper needed more information. It was then that he realized Green was still alive.

Green’s family spent years in court trying to recoup money from his medical bills. They settled with Franklin County, local EMS and two paramedics in 2009 for $1 million.

Green’s father filed a complained against the Department of Health and Human Services in 2008.

A spokesman for the DHHS released a statement saying the negotiated settlement of $425,000 “avoids the emotional toll and expense of a lengthy trial.”

As of May, Green, 39, was living in a nursing home, unable to walk or talk.

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