Actor James Woods Settles Suit for Wrongful Death of Brother

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 08, 2009 11:50 AM

Actor James Woods just needed to hear an apology from Kent Hospital in Rhode Island where his brother, Michael Woods, died of a heart attack in an ER.

NBC reports that actor James Woods settled a lawsuit for wrongful death on behalf of his brother Michael Woods' family. AP reports that James Woods claims that when Michael Woods came into the hospital with a sore throat and vomiting, the hospital was negligent and that the negligence resulted in his brother's death.

So, what exacly is wrongful death?

A "wrongful death" occurs when a person is killed because of the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or entity. A lawsuit for wrongful death is brought on behalf of the decedent's immediate family members -- usually surviving spouses and children, and sometimes parents -- by the personal representative of the decedent's estate.

In this case, actor James Woods claimed that his brother was killed because of human error (negligence) made by Kent Hospital. He was joined in the civil lawsuit with his nephew.

What Are the Elements of Wrongful Death?

  • The death of a human being;
  • Caused by another's negligence, recklessness or intent to cause harm;
  • The survival of family members or dependents of the deceased; and
  • Monetary injury to those who surviced the deceased.

Why Did The Family Settle?

James Woods settled the lawsuit once an executive came up to him and personally apologized for the family's loss. NBC quotes James Woods as saying, "It was all I ever needed to see, one human being saying to another human being 'I'm sorry for your loss.' It makes it possible for me to go to my brother's grave and ask if I've done the right thing."

As a result of the settlement, Michael Woods' family will receive an undisclosed amount of money, an institute that the hospital will open in Michael Woods' name, and a promise to work out ways to reduce human errors in hospitals.

Woods also said that he feels at peace with the settlement. NBC quotes Woods as saying, "I can honestly say today that, as sad as it is that I have lost him forever ... my brother got justice."

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