Women sue hospital over garbage accident

December 29, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

A Baltimore County woman and her mother want multimillion-dollar damages from Franklin Square Hospital Center Inc. for a 1989 incident in which they said a bag of medical waste broke open, spilling glass that cut the woman and blood and other fluids that entered the cuts.

Ms. Black has myasthenia gravis, a chronic muscle weakness, and is cared for by her mother, Joan Engle, 49, according to their lawsuit, filed Monday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Their attorney's office said they didn't want any publicity about the case.

According to the suit, Betty Black, 26, was standing near an elevator on May 16, 1989, looking for the room of a patient whom she planned to visit. The elevator doors opened and a hospital employee brought out a cart full of plastic bags, the suit said.

A bag on top of the cart began to fall and the man grabbed at it, causing it to "tear open and spill much of its contents on Betty Black [who was] cut and scratched by glass particles and spattered with blood and other fluids [that] invaded the open wound areas," the suit said.

No warning signs were posted, and the hospital has refused to say whether Ms. Black might have been exposed to hepatitis B or the HIV virus, the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, according to the suit.

The suit alleges negligence by the hospital and the employee and seeks $2 million on that claim.

Frances A. Kelleher, vice president for marketing at the hospital, said that they hadn't received a copy of the suit and couldn't comment on the allegations.

Ms. Black had to undergo hepatitis B vaccine treatment that caused her pain, weight loss, damage to her teeth and other distress, according to her lawsuit, and will have to undergo tests for the HIV virus for years to come. She is seeking $5.5 million in damages for emotional distress.

The suit also says Ms. Engle suffered emotional distress, pain, and lost her job as a result of stress and is seeking $1 million in damages.

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