Bill Paxton’s family to receive $1 million in malpractice settlement

The ‘Titanic’ actor died in February 2017 after heart surgery, and while an anesthesiologists’ group denies any direct liability, they are opting to avoid a lengthy lawsuit

Actor Bill Paxton in ‘Titanic’ in 1997.
Actor Bill Paxton in ‘Titanic’ in 1997.photo: MPTV.net

Beloved actor Bill Paxton’s widow and two children will receive $1 million from a lawsuit they filed following his death against the anesthesiologists involved in a heart operation, legal documents show.

Paxton underwent surgery in mid-February 2017 to replace a heart valve and repair damage to an aorta at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, but passed away less than two weeks later. He was 61 years old.

The anesthesiologists’ defense attorneys submitted a statement on February 23 to the Superior Court of Los Angeles, where they stated that they were seeking final approval from the family to reach an agreement.

Despite proposing this “partial settlement” – reported by People magazine and NBC TV network – the General Anesthesia Specialists Partnership denies having had “any direct responsibility” for the actor’s death. Their personnel “complied with the standard of care insofar as their involvement in the care and treatment of [...] Paxton, and nothing their personnel did or didn’t do caused or contributed to his death,” according to court records. However, they state that they want to reach a settlement that reasonably compensates the plaintiffs, namely the Titanic actor’s wife, Louise, and their two children, James and Lydia, while avoiding exposing the defendants “to an expensive and time-consuming litigation.”

The settlement will be contingent on the court’s belief that it was made “in good faith” on the part of the defendants. The anesthesiologists’ attorney has stated the settlement was “a business decision,” according to NBC.

In 2018, Paxton’s widow and children filed a lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai, and later incorporated the anesthesiologists’ association into the legal claim. The lawsuit alleged that the surgeon responsible for the operation used “a high risk and unconventional surgical approach with which he lacked experience,” and that the hospital minimized the risks of the operation. This caused excessive bleeding and “cardiogenic shock,” a phenomenon caused when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body, according to the family suit.

Louise Paxton, Bill’s wife of 30 years, and their children James, 27, and Lydia, 25, nonetheless have a September 19 trial date for their case against the medical center, which they accuse of misrepresenting and concealing information related to the risks of the surgery.

Paxton began his career in the late 1990s and became a very popular face in key supporting roles. He appeared in blockbusters such as Apollo 13, The Terminator and Alien. In the mid-1990s, his roles as the scientist Bill Harding in Jan de Bont’s Twister and the investigator Brock Lovett in James Cameron’s Titanic added to his growing fame. In addition, TV shows also brought him great joy, in particular HBO’s Big Love, for which he earned three Golden Globe nominations, and a History Channel miniseries called Hatfields & McCoys, which he starred in alongside Kevin Costner and which earned him an Emmy nomination.

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