Laundry Workers Made Awful Discovery. Now, a Lawsuit

Stillborn was thrown into hospital's dirty linens in 2013 incident, complaint alleges
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2017 7:12 AM CDT
Updated Oct 14, 2017 3:39 PM CDT
Lawsuit: Hospital Threw Stillborn Baby in Dirty Laundry
In this Sept. 15, 2017, photo, laundry sits folded next to a washing machine.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A family is suing a Minnesota hospital for making a personal tragedy worse four years ago. Esmerelda Hernandez prematurely gave birth to Jose, a stillborn boy, in April 2013 at St. Paul's Regions Hospital, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports. As she and her family mourned Jose in her room, Regions staff asked if they could cremate the baby's body, per the suit; the family agreed. But nearly two weeks later, someone anonymously placed a call to cops that staff at Crothall Laundry Services, where the hospital's linens were sent for cleaning, had come across the baby, still in his diaper and ID bracelet, in dirty laundry. The baby's body "flew out and landed on a metal grate," and workers proceeded to "gawk at Baby Jose, took photos of him, and sent pictures of him into cyberspace," per the complaint, which is asking for "far in excess of $50,000" each for Hernandez and her nine co-plaintiffs.

Two hospital workers were allegedly sent to get the body, and neither cops nor the Hernandezes were called, the suit notes; the Hernandezes reached out to the hospital after they heard media reports. Per legal documents, the laundry facility manager noted it wasn't unusual to find medical waste—including "tissue, blood, and on occasion, an appendage"—among the hospital's linens. Regions reps say a hospital worker had spotted the baby's body wrapped in linens (not in a body bag, a process Minnesota Public Radio has called into question) on a shelf in the hospital's morgue and mistaken it for a pile of dirty laundry, reports the Washington Post. The body of a second baby was believed to have been sent to Crothall around the same time as Jose; that body was never found. A hospital rep reiterates its apologies and says it's "always open to a reasonable resolution," per Courthouse News. (Read more lawsuit stories.)

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