Two Chicago families have joined together to sue a hospital after life support was turned off for the wrong man in a case of mistaken identity. The incident started on April 29 when a man was found beaten, nude, and abused on the streets of Chicago with no identification card on him. When the man was taken to Mercy Hospital, they wrongly identified him as Alfonso Bennett, a mistake that would cost him his life.
Because the man was falsely identified, Bennett’s family was informed, and his sister gave the hospital permission to turn off his life support machine. But a little while later, the real Alfonso Bennett showed up to a family barbecue and absolutely stunned the entire family by being alive.
Now the two families are suing the City of Chicago and Mercy Hospital. The man who was taken off life support was later correctly identified as Elisha Brittman. That’s why both Chicago families have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The only reason the sister decided to take the man off life support was that Chicago police told them, insisted to them, that he was their brother. In reality, he was an entirely different man belonging to another family.
The two families are accusing the hospital and city of negligence and for inflicting emotional stress. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $50,000 from each defendant, a sum that seems much too modest given that the hospital and city mistake resulted in the death of an innocent man.
The families claim that the hospital could have avoided all of this mess if they had simply fingerprinted Brittman when he came to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Instead, the hospital assumed Brittman was Alfonso Bennett. They called Bennett’s sister, Rosie Brooks on May 13 informing her that her brother was in intensive care. Because the man’s face was badly beaten, it was hard to identify him. Rosie and her sister Brenda Bennett-Johnson, went to the hospital to check on the man.
“They had him on the ventilator, and they had a tube in his mouth,” Brooks told WBBM-TV.
Although the police said that the man was Bennett, the sisters were doubtful at first.
They kept saying CPD identified this person as our brother,” Bennett-Johnson said.
Although the victim’s face was beaten up, the police used mugshots to identify him instead of the more trusted fingerprint method.
“You don’t identify a person through a mugshot versus fingerprints,” Bennett-Johnson said.
As the man’s condition deteriorated, the hospital asked the sister if they could take him off life support. After he died, the sisters made funeral arrangements, because, by this point, they trusted the police officers.
But then they got a call from another sister who said: “it’s a miracle!” because Alfonso showed up for a family barbecue.
“I could have almost had a heart attack,” Bennett-Johnson said.
When asked about the incident, Mercy Hospital tried to blame Bennett’s family on the case of mistaken identity, saying: “The family did identify this patient as their brother.”
Should the Chicago police have used fingerprints to identify the unknown man?
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