Court: Michigan Hospital Can Be Sued in Wife’s Death

April 7, 2009

An appeals court says a suburban Detroit, Mich., hospital can be sued for releasing a man who killed his wife 10 days later.

The April 6 ruling reinstates a lawsuit filed in the death of Marie Moses Irons. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said her estate is covered by a federal law regulating medical care.

Christopher Howard was physically ill and had signs of mental illness when Irons took him to the emergency room at Providence Hospital in Southfield in 2002. He spent six days there and subsequently killed his wife.

Irons’ estate claims the hospital failed to follow federal law by not stabilizing Howard before his release. The decision means the case will return to federal court in Detroit.

Howard is serving a life sentence.

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