Colds and flu

13 August 2009

H1N1 widow sues city for $40 m

The widow of a New York City school administrator who became the first person in the city to die of H1N1 flu plans to file a $40 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

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The widow of a New York City school administrator who became the first person in the city to die of H1N1 flu said she planned to file a $40 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

Filed as a notice of claim -- a required step before a formal suit is entered -- it would be the first wrongful death suit against the city linked to the outbreak of the flu strain, the city law department said.

Mitchell Wiener, 55, died in May after being admitted to a hospital with the H1N1 flu virus. It was the first death in New York City where many of the US cases were reported.

According to the city health department, 47 people have died in the outbreak in New York City.

Wiener was the assistant principal of Intermediate School 236 in Hollis in the New York borough of Queens. The school was one of several city schools to be shuttered after the illness afflicted students and staff members.

In a notice of claim filed, Wiener's widow, Bonnie Wiener, accused the city of failing to adequately control the H1N1 outbreak and failing to inform Wiener that he had come in contact with individuals who tested positive for the H1N1 flu.

"The city didn't do anything wrong," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters when asked about the suit. – (Reuters Health, August 2009)

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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