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Hospital Blamed for Pictures of Dead Son

(CN) - A mother says she was confronted with photographs of her dead son taken by his probable murderers because a Massachusetts hospital gave them access to the body.

Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., treated 25-year-old Louis Rosario in the early morning hours of April 12, 2009, after he was brought in with two gunshots to the chest. He was pronounced dead just minutes after his arrival, according to the complaint.

Disregarding hospital policies, hospital staff "allowed three youths, identified in the hospital records as 'family (brother), girlfriend, and wife' ... access to Mr. Rosario's body," Rosario's mother, Carmen Rivera, says in Superior Court.

"During the time that the hospital staff allowed the three youths access to Mr. Rosario's corpse, defendant hospital staff failed to monitor and supervise the activities of the three youths," the complaint continues.

"At least one of the three youths photographed Mr. Rosario's corpse with a cell phone camera."

Rivera says she learned about the intrusion when she arrived at the hospital several hours later.

She then "informed defendant hospital staff that Mr. Rosario did not have a wife, never had married, that his brother Alex was a three year old child, and that the three youths were not related to Mr. Rosario by blood or marriage and had no permission from Mr. Rosario's family to access and view Mr. Rosario's corpse," according to the complaint.

"The three youths that the defendant hospital staff had permitted to view and access Mr. Rosario's dead body were attendees of the party at which Mr. Rosario had been murdered."

Though staffers had allowed strangers to see Rosario's body, Rivera says they "would not permit the plaintiff's sister, Louis Rosario's aunt, to accompany ... [her] when she first viewed her son's murdered body."

"Several days after his death, the plaintiff received text messages and e-mails containing a photograph of her dead son," the complaint states.

"The photograph of Louis Rosario's corpse has been circulated on public media."

Rivera says the hospital violated its "patient bill of rights," which includes a right to confidentiality, personal dignity and also excludes photography of any kind.

"All of the defendants failed to secure Mr. Rosario's body from the eyes of the curious and the malicious, including those who may have played a part in his murder," the complaint states.

Rivera seeks punitive damages from the hospital's operator, Vanguard Health Systems, Nurse Marlene Mwangi and four security officers, for privacy violations, negligent control of a dead body and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Mark Itzkowitz in Boston.

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