Client’s Challenge: A Family Member Passes Away – Leaving Unanswered Questions

The man passed away sometime during the night, in a quiet suburb just outside a major East Coast city. In the early morning hours, his wife found him unresponsive and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at the local hospital. The autopsy ruled the death an accident due to a “hematoma.” His body was cremated. One month later, his brother, the Europe-based CEO of a multinational corporation contacted Hillard Heintze’s CEO and asked for help. “There are anomalies here,” he explained, “that don’t make sense.”

Our Solution: Working with Authorities – and Engaging a Renowned U.S. Forensic Pathologist to Help

That morning, Hillard Heintze launched an investigation into the post-mortem examination and circumstances surrounding the engineer’s death.

Investigators asked for the brother’s medical records for the last two decades – and had them translated. They interviewed the sheriff’s team that responded to the call but elected not to conduct a formal death investigation. They met with the clinical pathologist who conducted the autopsy and asked about the medical basis for his conclusions and why he had amended his final report. And they engaged a renowned U.S. forensic pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner whose analysis, in direct conflict with the autopsy report, identified a foreign substance within the deceased’s brain following a brain surgery that had been carried out 18 months prior to his death.

Impact on the Client: Finally – Answers That Made Sense

Hillard Heintze uncovered answers to the CEO’s questions – from why a formal death investigation had not been conducted to why the autopsy had been amended.

What mattered most to the family, though, was Hillard Heintze’s conclusion that the man had died as a result of a complication from his earlier brain surgery due to a nodule that appeared to have applied unusual pressure to the brain stem. But it was the detail supporting the firm’s key findings – explaining many, if not all, of the anomalies in the U.S. authorities’ response and conclusions – that kept the family from asking questions for the rest of their lives.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“This could be my family or my employee. And if it were, I would want answers. Fact-based and well-documented answers.

In this country, police resources typically concentrate on incidents bearing some evidence that a crime has been committed. In this case, there was none.

We confirmed that fact, from several perspectives. Yes: mistakes were made. Not in the local law enforcement response, as we initially suspected, but in the autopsy. And in the family’s failure to share critical health history information.

At the end of the day though, our most important role was much more simple. And human. We were able to tell the family what likely happened. We gave them answers that helped them move forward.”

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