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Buffalo Family Sues Doctor Over Wrongly Pronouncing Man Dead

Nobody’s perfect. We all know that. But there are certain professionals who we all expect to provide us with expertise that we can depend on. Doctors certainly fall into this category. We depend on them to provide us with medical care as well as medical advice to help us to live long, prosperous and healthy lives. Needless to say, when doctors make mistakes, the ramifications can be life-altering.

Is there a bigger mistake than pronouncing a person who is alive to be dead?

We can’t imagine it gets much bigger than that! And, quite obviously, the fallout from such an error can have a widespread negative impact. Sadly, this was discovered by Michael and Tammy Cleveland of Buffalo, New York. As reported by Michael E. Miller of The Washingston Post, on October 10th, 2014, Michael Cleveland collapsed in a supermarket. He was rushed to DeGraff Memorial Hospital. When his wife Tammy arrived at the hospital, she was given the worst news imaginable. Michael had died.

Only he didn’t. Upon viewing her husband’s supposedly dead body with her children, she noticed that he was actually moving. She recalls that Michael even looked at her. However, the young doctor who pronounced Michael’s death – one Gregory C. Perry – didn’t believe Tammy. Two and a half hours of incessant begging for her husband’s vital signs to be checked were ignored. Finally, after a coroner’s insistence, Perry agreed to examine Michael Cleveland again. And he found a pulse.

“For the Cleveland family, it has been a nightmare.”

“The story of how Michael seemingly ‘came back from the dead’ is a strange and ultimately tragic tale of missed opportunities and alleged medical negligence,” reports Miller, “For the Cleveland family, it has been a nightmare. For countless others, it has conjured up distrust of doctors and captured dark fears of being fatally misdiagnosed by a physician. And now it’s the subject of a lawsuit.”

In a report published by Kyle Swenson in The Washington Post just last week, it was revealed that after being pronounced dead, Michael Cleveland was visibly breathing, had a vein pulsing in his neck and even bent and straightened his knees while lying on a gurney. It wasn’t until a Niagara County coroner arrived at the hospital and noticed movement in Cleveland that the doctors finally checked their patient again.

A 90-minute window was missed.

“Unfortunately, Cleveland would not make it, succumbing hours later after being transferred to a larger hospital, Buffalo General Medical Center,” informs Swenson. Naturally, the Cleveland family is convinced that if hours had not been wasted, Michael’s life could have been saved. This is what the family’s attorney Charles F. Burkwit will be arguing in court.

“There’s a 90-minute window were cardiologists want to get the artery unblocked,” he is quoted as saying in Swenson’s article, “They missed that 90-minute window because he was pronounced and left for dead. Had they not pronounced him dead at around 8:30, he would have had a much better chance of surviving.” Not surprisingly, the defendants in the case are claiming that the delay in treatment had no impact on Cleveland’s chance of surviving.

At Allegiant Experts, we were shocked to learn of this story. We can’t help but feel for the Cleveland family and hope they find the justice they seek. If you are an attorney working a medical misconduct case, please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how our clinical experts can help you. Call us at 407-217-5831 or email us at

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