Suing the Survivors

In 1997, the wife of Phillip Bonaffini died from an infection she contracted during cardiac surgery at Bridgeport Hospital. Another patient, Eunice Babcock, was left wheelchair-bound due to a staphylococcus infection that she contracted during surgery at the same hospital. The hospital settled the cases out of court by paying Bonaffini and Babcock an undisclosed sum in exchange for signed confidentiality agreements. Recently, however, Bonaffini made the mistake of talking about his wife's death to The Chicago Tribune, noting that tens of thousands of patients die each year in the United States from infections that are largely preventable. Bridgeport Hospital responded by filing a lawsuit for breach of contract, but dropped the suit two days later. "The quick withdrawal of the suit suggested that legal action intended to relieve a public relations headache had created a public relations nightmare instead," reports the New York Times. "If the goal was to stem negative publicity, suing a man whose wife died and a woman who was left mostly wheelchair-bound, was probably ill-advised."