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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Mom Says Security Put Dead Son in a Taxi

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (CN) - Hospital security guards sent an "uncooperative" patient who was "refusing to talk or move" home in a taxi, though he was dying or already dead, the man's mother claims in court.

The late A'Darrin Washington's mother, Deborah Washington, sued AlliedBarton Security Services, in Cumberland County Superior Court.

A'Darrin Washington died on Nov. 22, 2011 during his discharge from nonparty Cumberland County Hospital, according to the complaint.

Washington, who suffered from recurrent pneumonia associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, had been a patient of the hospital for 10 years, the lawsuit states.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of lymphocytes, or white blood cells.

Washington's mother claims the hospital admitted her son on Nov. 14 and misdiagnosed him as suffering from bacterial pneumonia. A few days later, she says, tests showed he had fungal pneumonia, and he had been receiving the wrong type of medication. The staff noted he was weak, unable to walk and in pain, and his condition deteriorated over the next few days.

On Nov. 21, after Washington received the first dose of the right medication, the hospital declared him stable and prepared him for discharge, his mom says. She says her son was still weak, seriously ill and not fit for discharge.

The next morning, the hospital called a taxi service to take Washington home.

AlliedBarton Security guards at the hospital took Washington to the lobby and moved him from his wheelchair into the taxi, his mother claims.

"(A) nurse called for security to escort Mr. Washington from his hospital bed to the lobby for discharge because Mr. Washington was allegedly 'uncooperative' and 'refusing to talk or move,'" the complaint states.

"Upon information and belief, prior to his discharge, Mr. Washington was extremely weak and ill and in pain and had sought not to be discharged before he became unresponsive.

"When Mr. Washington became unresponsive he was unable to talk or move.

"Mr. Washington was unresponsive due to the fact that he was dying."

Two security officers took him to the lobby, lifted him from his wheelchair into the taxi and secured him with a seatbelt while he was unresponsive, according to the complaint.

At least two members of the hospital staff "expressed concerns" about Washington, and the taxi driver was concerned that he was already dead, the mom claims.

Nonetheless, the security workers loaded him into the taxi, and even crossed his legs for him, the mother says. Her son was unconscious during the 45-minute trip home, where his mom and family received him "unresponsive and cold to the touch," according to the lawsuit.

His mom claims she suffered severe distress when her son's body was left in the taxi in the front yard for four hours, while police investigated.

She seeks compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

She is represented by Lynne Holtkamp, of Chapel Hill.

The parties to the lawsuit did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

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