Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Two Families Suing After Disfigured Patient is Mis-ID'd, Taken off Life Support

FingerprintA man found underneath a car in Chicago on April 29 and taken to Mercy Hospital, severally beaten to the point of facial disfigurement, naked, and unconscious, was listed as John Doe until he could be identified through mugshots. He was believed to be Alfonso Bennett, and his family was told their loved one was in the intensive care unit. The family eventually took him off life support after he was in the hospital for six weeks and his condition failed to improve and he passed away shortly afterwards.

Unfortunately, the man was not Alfonso Bennett, but rather 66-year-old Elisha Brittman, and his family said he had been missing for weeks. Mioshi Brittman, his niece, claimed that she searched for her uncle "every day" and was dismissed by the police when she tried to file a missing person's report. Rosie Brooks, Alfonso Bennett's sister, said that she repeatedly told hospital staff that she could not recognize the man on the bed as her brother, but were dismissed as being in denial.

The Bennett and the Brittman families accuse the Chicago Police Department and Mercy Hospital of willful misconduct and negligence for using mugshots, and not fingerprints, to identify a man whose face was severely disfigured. The police say that identification through fingerprints are used as a last resort. Weeks after the Bennett family mourned the death of their loved one, Alfonso showed up to a family party after failing to let anyone know he took a vacation. The body at the morgue was then fingerprinted and correctly identified as Brittman. Each family are seeking $50,000 for the emotional trauma of the ordeal and the wrongful death of Elisha Brittman.

See Danielle Wallace, Two Families Suing After Disfigured Patient is Mis-ID'd, Taken off Life Support, Fox News, July 4, 2019.


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