Althea LaCoste, 73, died before she could be evacuated from Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina four and a half years ago. Now LaCoste's death is at the center of a civil lawsuit that could have far-reaching implications for hospitals across the country. The lawsuit against Methodist Hospital is the first civil suit alleging negligence of a hospital staff in Katrina's aftermath, USA Today
reports. It could pave the way for future lawsuits across the country for how hospitals react to a variety of emergencies, from viral pandemics to street riots, says Sean Ahrens, a project manager with Aon Corp., a risk-management and insurance advisory firm to hospitals.