Attorneys for the fiance of Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson, who died after donating bone marrow to a teenage cancer patient, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday against Hackensack University Medical Center.
The complaint naming the hospital, an anesthesiologist and others was filed in Superior Court in Union County, according to Roseland attorney David A. Mazie.
“The lawsuit involves Dr. Nelson’s donation of bone marrow to a 14-year-old stranger in France who was suffering from cancer,” Essex County attorney David A. Mazie said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, this selfless act took Dr. Nelson’s life as the anesthesiologist committed medical malpractice during the procedure, leading to Dr. Nelson suffering severe brain damage and ultimately death several weeks later,” Mazie alleged in the statement.
Nelson, 44, underwent surgery to donate bone marrow at the Hackensack hospital in February. He lapsed into a coma a short time after the procedure and died on April 8.
Though copies of the complaint were not included with the statement, Mazie said a press conference was planned for 2 p.m. in his law office in Roseland.
Mazie noted in the statement that after his death “there was significant public outpouring to preserve his memory.”
“New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered that all flags be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral,” Mazzie said. “There is a petition with thousands of names in an effort to have Westfield High School be named after Dr. Nelson; Dr. Nelson has been nominated to receive the Solder’s Medal; and Dr. Nelson was posthumously named the Grand Marshall of the Westfield Township Memorial Day Parade.”
Nelson served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 20 years and had recently re-enlisted, his father said. His military service included an assignment in the Middle East, school officials have said.
Before coming to Westfield, Nelson served as assistant principal in two public schools in Orange and he began his career in education in 2002 as a teacher in the Plainfield School District.