Settlement in death lawsuit unsettled

Family opposed confidentiality clause
May. 13, 2014 @ 08:29 AM

A settlement in a lawsuit against Caldwell Memorial Hospital by the family of a woman who died fell apart because the family wanted to be able to speak out about what happened.

The proposed settlement was reached in January, but the hospital added a confidentiality agreement that would forbid the family to talk about the facts of the case, said James M. Roane III, the attorney for the family of Mary Kathleen Coffey Gragg, 64, of Collettsville.

"For the family, it's more than the money, it's getting the facts out," Roane said. "We argued that the facts of the case are public record."

The suit claims that Gragg died as a result of treatment she received at the hospital from October 2009 to January 2010. She was known to already be suffering from heart valve disease but was not evlauated for her possible infection of the aortic valve, the lawsuit says. And on Jan. 23, 2010, six days after her last hospital admittance, Gragg suffered a complete heart blockage and stroke from a blood clot traveling to her brain, and a pacemaker that was installed so she could be transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center was incorrectly installed, rendering it non-functional, the suit says. Gragg died at Wake Forst Baptist Medical Center on Jan. 28, 2010.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages of more than $10,000 for pain and suffering, funeral and medical expenses, and loss of potential income.

Allen Tarleton, the hospital's attorney, declined to comment except to say, "We believe the case is defensible, and many lawsuits are settled. We don't have a settlement."

Settlement negotiations continue, Roane said.

The case is on the Caldwell Superior Court docket for Sept. 8.