The parents of playwright Jonathan Larson said they were looking for reassurance that nothing could have been done for their son when they asked a friend to look into his sudden death in January.
Instead, attorney David Taback said this month, the Albuquerque, N.M., couple sued Cabrini Medical Center and Saint Vincents Hospital and Medical Center of New York for malpractice, alleging they misdiagnosed Larson and caused his death.
The hospitals declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
Larson, 35, died in his apartment of a ruptured aortic aneurysm on Jan. 25, hours after the final dress rehearsal for his play "Rent," which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama and Tony awards for best musical, best book and best score.
"I wanted to know that nothing could have been done for him; it was an act of God," said Larson's father, Al. "That's what we were looking for and that's frankly what we were expecting, the way the coroner explained the whole thing. But when the X-rays were examined, it turned things around."
Larson went to Cabrini on Jan. 21, complaining of stomach pain and breathing difficulties, Taback said. Doctors took X-rays, told him it was something he had eaten, pumped his stomach and sent him home.
Two days later, Larson went to Saint Vincents, where doctors took X-rays and told him he had a virus. "Go home and don't worry," Taback said the doctors told Larson.
Both sets of X-rays should have detected the aneurysm, said Taback, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Al and Nanette Larson.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to do something to make sure hospitals pay more attention to people that come to their emergency rooms," Al Larson said.