Son Blames Officials' Negligence And Misconduct For Mother's
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 17, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--The image of her shroud-covered body slumped in her wheelchair outside a New Orleans convention center shocked television viewers and newspaper readers all over the world last summer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Now, Ethel Mayo Freeman's son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans, along with more than a dozen departments and officials, the Times-Picayune reported, blaming them for her death.
In the suit filed Thursday, Herbert Freeman Jr. accused the agencies and city of gross negligence and willful misconduct as his mother died in the heat outside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
After the hurricane, Mr. Freeman evacuated his mother, who also used a feeding tube, to the convention center as instructed by police. But when they reached the center, they found it had no water, food or medical supplies. Freeman said that a police officer told him to park his mother in her wheelchair outside the shelter to wait for buses that were on their way.
She died more than 24 hours later -- while waiting for buses that did not come until it was too late.
"They kept saying she was a symbol of the hurricane," Mr. Freeman said. "No, she's a symbol of neglect."
The suit reportedly alleged the officials ignored an evacuation plan that had been drawn up just four months before the hurricane.
Freeman's lawyer said he plans to file a separate lawsuit in federal court against the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Son sues in death of mother" (Times-Picayune)
"Son sues over Katrina wheelchair death" (Houston Chronicle)
"People With Disabilities Among Hardest Hit By Hurricanes Katrina & Rita" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)