Rhode Island Hospital Apology Prompts Actor Woods to Settle Suit

December 4, 2009

Oscar-nominated actor James Woods settled a lawsuit against a Rhode Island hospital where his brother, Michael, died, a judge announced this week.

A hospital executive apologized and agreed to start an institute in his brother’s name.

The settlement, which also included an undisclosed sum to the Woods family, came in the fourth week of testimony at Kent County Superior Court in the wrongful death lawsuit against Kent Hospital for the 2006 death.

Michael Woods, 49, had a heart attack and died in the emergency room after going there with a sore throat and vomiting, and James Woods claimed the hospital didn’t do enough to save him.

Woods said the turning point came after Kent Hospital Chief Executive Sandra Coletta met with the Woods family Monday and apologized for the first time.

At a joint news conference with Coletta outside the courthouse, Woods teared up as he described the loss of his brother and the anger and bitterness the family had felt.

But he said that with the opening of The Michael J. Woods Institute at Kent Hospital, which will work to find ways to reduce human errors at hospitals, there would be something positive out of his brother’s death.

“We made the best of a horrible tragedy,” Woods said.

The two sides would not comment on other terms of the settlement, but Woods said Michael’s three children would “have the opportunity to have a good education.”

Coletta said at the news conference that mistakes had been made in Michael Woods’ case.

The hospital agreed to invest $1.25 million over the next five years in the institute, which will look at how to reduce the risk of errors based on how humans actually do things, also known as human factors research. Its leadership will include a representative of Michael Woods’ family, as well as experts from inside and outside of the hospital.

James Woods earned Oscar nominations for his roles in “Ghosts of Mississippi” and “Salvador.” Other credits include “Nixon,” “Casino,” “Any Given Sunday” and the CBS legal drama “Shark.” He sued along with his nephew Peyton, Michael’s teenage son.

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