Father files lawsuit 4 years after daughter dies at Rockledge Hospital

Brevard County man alleges malpractice, fraud

A multimillion-dollar wrongful-death lawsuit is being brought against a Brevard County hospital.

Michael Lawley says Wuesthoff Medical Center in Rockledge cared more about his daughter's $368,000 bill than her life.

"I never got to hear her voice again," said Lawley, who couldn't be at the hospital to say goodbye.

That was March 2012, when his daughter was on life support one month after coming to Wuesthoff.

Thirty-one-year-old Shannon Lawley came to the ER with severe stomach pain, but when she walked in, Lawley says, doctors kept her out of the ICU for over 10 hours because no beds were available.

Her dad says the wait killed her.

Shannon became deathly ill with pancreatitis and eventually went into a coma.

"It's beyond words what impact something like this has on a family," said Lawley.

Shannon was not transferred to another hospital during the 10-hour period.

Her dad says the staff kept her at Wuesthoff intentionally, to rack up her bill, because she had good insurance to cover it.

Her four-week stay at Wuesthoff cost $368,000.

That same alleged business practice is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice against the company that formerly owned Wuesthoff.

"They did not want to lose the money that they could get from her insurance company," said Ted Babbitt, Lawley's attorney.

News 6 called and emailed hospital representatives Wednesday in efforts to get a response to the allegations, but those calls and emails went unreturned.

In addition to the lawsuit, Lawley is advocating new laws to protect patients with good insurance from being taken in when the hospital doesn't have adequate means to care for them.

"Hopefully with what we're doing, we'll be able to make a difference," said Lawley.

"We're not going to rest until this family is compensated for what was done to them," said Babbitt. "She died because she didn't get the kind of care that she should have got."


About the Author: