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Elderly Woman, Maria de Jesus Arroyo, 'Frozen Alive In Hospital Morgue'

06/04/2014 18:23 BST | Updated 06/04/2014 19:59 BST

An elderly woman was frozen alive in a hospital morgue after being mistakenly pronounced dead.

When workers went to retrieve the body of Maria de Jesus Arroyo, 80, she was found face down with injuries to her face caused when she tried to escape, according to a pathologist.

Her family are suing the White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights after the incident in 2010.

morgue

Maria de Jesus Arroyo

Their attorney, Scott Schutzman, told The Huffington Post: "She was put into that body bag while she was alive.

"The cold from the hospital morgue woke her up, and she was fighting her way out when she died."

"She must of got the wounds while she was fighting, while she was on her way out, and that's why they found her upside down."

The family had initially put the injuries - which were so severe they could not be covered with make-up - down to mishandling of her body.

But a pathologist hired by the family ruled the injuries must have been suffered pre-mortem. Schutzman changed the lawsuit from one of negligence to wrongful death.

Schutzman added: "Even if we win, it's bittersweet because they relive this whole thing."

White Memorial Medical Center has denied any wrongdoing in the case: "We followed all proper protocols in this matter and are confident that once the facts of the case are reviewed, we will prevail in court,"