Local News

Court: Medical examiner not liable in mistaken-death case

Posted April 6, 2010 3:38 p.m. EDT

Larry Donnell Green

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the family of a Franklin County man mistakenly declared dead five years ago cannot sue the county's medical examiner.

Larry Donnell Green was walking along U.S. Highway 401 north of Louisburg when he was hit by a car on Jan. 24, 2005. Paramedics responding to the accident declared Green dead, although they didn't thoroughly examine him.

Green was zipped into a body bag and sent to the Franklin County morgue, where the coroner later saw him breathing.

He has spent most of his time since then in a rehabilitation facility in Wilson. He's bed-ridden, can barely talk and will likely be that way for the rest of his life, family members have said.

Green's family argued that the Franklin County medical examiner, Dr. J. B. Perdue, could have prevented the oversight. They maintained that he overlooked crucial information and ignored the observations of others at the scene who thought Green might still be alive.

The appellate judges agreed with attorneys for the state, however, in ruling that Perdue is protected against the lawsuit as a state employee who was acting in his official capacity.

Green's family reached a $1 million settlement last September against the county and two paramedics in the case. Attorneys said the bulk of the settlement would be placed in a trust to pay for Green's medical care.