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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hospital Worker Texted Corpse Pic, Mom Says

NEW HAVEN (CN) - Hospital workers texted a photo of the body of a young gunshot victim and may have posted it online, the man's mother claims in court.

Virginia Williams sued Saint Raphael Healthcare System on her own behalf and for her late son, Travis Washington, a minor.

Washington was shot to death on June 25, 2011. He could not be revived in The Hospital of Saint Raphael emergency room, his mother says.

A short time after he died, "a hospital employee approached Travis Washington's body and began taking pictures of the corpse with the said employee's personal cell phone camera," his mother claims.

"Thereafter, the cell phone pictures were uploaded and transmitted electronically to other defendant employees and staff persons.

"The photograph(s) of Mr. Washington's corpse has been circulated on public media."

Williams says this rude treatment cause her pain and suffering, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, embarrassment, humiliation and fear.

"Improper disclosure of said cell phone photograph is objectionable such that a reasonable person subjected to such disclosure would experience outrage, mental suffering, shame or humiliation," the complaint states.

Williams seeks damages for recklessness, negligence, privacy invasion and other charges.

She is represented in Superior Court by Jerald Barber of New Haven.

The New Haven Independent, an online news outlet, reported that Washington was 17 when he died of gunshot wounds to the chest. The Independent reported that hospital staff members were disciplined and the hospital offered to make a contribution to the burial fund.

The worker who took the photo texted it to others, who also shared it, according to the Independent. Attorney Barber told the Independent that "his office is investigating rumors that the photo may have spread online via email or Facebook" according to the July 22, 2011 online article.

"While the patient is unidentifiable in the photograph, the picture was unauthorized and violates our zero tolerance policy relating to patient privacy. As a result of this incident, three employees were terminated and others have received written warnings, documented counseling and there has been related education," hospital spokeswoman Liese Klein told the Independent for its July 2011 report.

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