Actor James Woods Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit against Hospital

The Providence Journal in Rhode Island reports that actor James Woods and his family have settled their negligence lawsuit against Kent Hospital. James Wood’s brother Michael Woods, died in the hospital emergency room in 2006, and attorneys for the family presented evidence that the hospital’s emergency room staff were negligent and responsible for his death.

The settlement included undisclosed payments to Michael Woods’ surviving daughters and son, plus a promise by the hospital to invest $1.25 million over the next five years in creating the Michael J. Woods Institute at Kent Hospital. The institute will be managed by a board that will include a Woods family member and will be charged with developing new procedures and training for hospital staff.

A sincere apology from the hospital’s president paved the way for the settlement, according to James Woods. He said he’d never heard someone from the hospital say they were sorry for his family’s loss. Coletta and Woods decided to meet face-to-face.

“It was all I ever needed to see in my life - one human being saying to another human being ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’” said Woods.

“We know we’re not perfect at Kent Hospital,” said hospital president Sandra Coletta at a press conference. “Mistakes were made. We can do better.”

The announcement of the settlement was a shock after weeks of testimony in which attorneys for the Woods family argued that hospital staff had missed or ignored signs that Michael Woods’ heart attack and left him unattended on a gurney in a hallway.

James Woods said that Coletta was “very gracious.” The actor, who had previously spoken very harsh words about the hospital, even told reporters, “Let’s not rub anyone’s nose in anything. They did do it [apologized] and people don’t do it. I don’t want to put her [Coletta] in the position of saying it twice.”

Coletta said that the plan for the new institute at the hospital is to design “human-centered” policies and protocols for hospital staff. Attorneys for the Woods family had argued that the hospital lacked this kind of approach to health care.

Michael Woods, 49 at the time, had gone to the emergency room with a sore throat and vomiting. An EKG showed that he had an abnormal heartbeat. During the trial, a doctor testified that she ordered he be put on a heart monitor, but the nursing staff did not follow up. Woods was left on a gurney in the hallway where he suffered the heart attack that killed him.

“Nobody knew where my brother was for the last hour and a half,” Woods said.

“Human errors in the health-care setting occur for a number of reasons, but at the root of many of them is poor communication,” Coletta said. She and Woods hope that the institute will facilitate better communication among hospital staff and reduce human errors.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical negligence, contact an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney immediately. You may be entitled to recovery. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.