Ebola: Duncan's Family Settles with Hospital

The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died at Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital, announced today it has settled its wrongful death claim against the facility. There will not be a lawsuit. Monetary terms were not disclosed.

The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died at Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital, announced today it has settled its wrongful death claim against the facility. There will not be a lawsuit.

At issue was whether Duncan died because he was sent home from the emergency room with a prescription for antibiotics for a raging fever that turned out to be an Ebola infection. He is seen in a Facebook photo at family event.

“We all make mistakes,” Duncan’s nephew Josephus Weeks said at a news conference announcing the settlement.

The terms of the agreement are confidential, but include setting up the Texas Health Dallas/ Thomas Eric Duncan Memorial Fund to help treat Ebola victims in Africa.

The family had publicly charged that Thomas was denied admission to the hospital out of racism and because he uninsured, but said it is taking back those statements.

The beneficiaries of the settlement are Duncan’s four children and his parents. His fiancée is not included because she is not a blood relative, according to George Mason, a Protestant minister who has been helping her and the family with housing and other support.

In announcing the settlement, the hospital released a statement again expressing sympathy, saying, “We know that this has been a terribly sad, difficult and trying time for Mr. Duncan’s family and friends.”

Further, the hospital expressed its “regret that the diagnosis of Ebola virus disease was not made at the time of Mr. Duncan’s initial emergency department visit.”

Texas Health Dallas, the entity that owns the hospital, “appreciates the acknowledgement by the family’s attorney that Mr. Duncan’s inpatient care was excellent.”

The statement ended by praising “common-sense Texas laws that allow discussions to take place immediately and be resolved quickly.”

Though it was unclear how easily the family might have won a lawsuit, and how long it might have taken, it was certain the hospital was eager to get past bad publicity and Ebola fears that saw the hospital’s patient census drop 21% and emergency room visits fall 50% in October, according to one Texas news account.