The family of Bee Gees star Maurice Gibb, who died of a heart attack last year, are
close to reaching an out-of-court settlement with the hospital they blame for his sudden
death which could run into millions of pounds.
Lawyers for Gibbs widow Yvonne and those acting for Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami
are understood to be close to agreeing a deal which will meet her wish to avoid the
circumstances surrounding the stars death being dragged through the American courts.
This comes despite claims that Gibbs brothers and fellow band members, Robin and
Barry, were keen to sue the high-profile hospital for negligence rather than reach a
However, a friend of the family told Scotland on Sunday that Yvonne, who recently received
Gibbs entire �m fortune and copyright on his music along with his daughter
Samantha, 22, and son Adam, 27, has resisted such moves, because it would be "so
American" to sue.
Following Gibbs death, the brothers, who have had a string of hits since the late
1960s, including You Win Again, Tragedy and How Deep Is Your
Love, said they wanted to see justice done.
Speaking about the loss of his twin brother in an earlier interview, Robin Gibb, who most
recently appeared as a judge on the BBCs Fame Academy, said: "There is a
tremendous amount of anger and the hospital is not off the hook. The lawyers are looking
into it - they have been since the day it happened, because his death was totally
Gibb died shortly after midnight on January 12 last year. He had checked himself into
Mount Sinai Hospital less than three days previously, complaining of stomach pains.
He was due to be examined the following day, but during the night his intestine burst,
flooding his body with toxins and causing cardiac arrest.
Following his death, the brothers consulted lawyers with a view to taking action against
the hospital, arguing that doctors did not detect that he had a twisted bowel. Gibb had
been admitted to the eighth floor, which is reserved for VIPs, but the hospitals
emergency equipment was three floors below.
Robin Gibb claimed that it took more than 10 minutes to retrieve the equipment to restart
his brothers heart, by which time he had suffered massive brain damage.
The family friend said that specialist medical malpractice lawyers had been involved in
the talks and that Mount Sinai Hospital "knew that things had gone wrong" and
that it was "pretty much cut and dried that Maurice should still be with us
today". He added: "I understand the hospital and Yvonnes lawyers are
talking with a view to a settlement without court action and that the hospital are tilting
towards accepting liability."
He added that Yvonne Gibb and her New York-based lawyer, Arnold Gicoma, had kept the
proceedings very private. "Its being settled behind closed doors," he
A close friend of the Gibb family in England said he understood the two brothers had been
very keen to sue the hospital and had consulted lawyers about taking legal action.
The source said: "The brothers, especially Barry, were very keen to sue the hospital.
They were understandably very angry about Maurices death and wanted to see some
"However, Yvonne is adamant that she does not want to sue. She says its
so American to sue, so instead she is negotiating a settlement with the
"Barry and Robin are obviously having to respect her wishes but its not what
they really wanted. Obviously they are going along with her now."
He added: "In America these sorts of cases could cost the hospital millions.
Its a shame really because its not a big hospital and this sort of payout
would really hit them hard."
The hospital said it would not comment on any private settlement. A spokeswoman said:
"I am not privy to that information. When lawyers are talking and something private
is happening then I wouldnt know about it and they certainly wouldnt comment
Robin Gibbs personal assistant, Ken Graydon, confirmed that the matter was being
looked into by US lawyers. "Yvonnes lawyer Gicoma is dealing with that,"
he said. "Its not something that Im involved in at all."
His press agent from PR company Quite Great also said the matter was being dealt with in
America. "Its not something that were involved in," she said.
US lawyer Gicoma would not comment on the proceedings.
Legal settlements involving the death of Americans in hospital can
typically run into millions of dollars. Last year the parents of a student who died after
doctors removed his spleen received $4.5m after lawyers alleged the hospital failed to
discover post-operative bleeding.
In 2000 a Chicago man agreed a $7m settlement after his wife died of cervical cancer
following a misread smear test.
Speculating on a possible settlement fee, lawyer Cameron Fyfe, of the Glasgow-based law
firm Ross Harper, said it could run into millions.
"Its not a sum you would see over here, but in America, when calculating a
figure for such a loss, you look at what is called loss of society.
"That means loss of companionship, and for some reason in Scotland that is valued at
only about �,000 to �,000 but in America that sum would be much, much higher."
He also said in the US they calculated "punitive damages", which is the loss of
potential earnings from the person concerned. He said there were many benefits to settling
out of court. "You dont have to go through the trauma of giving evidence and
you dont risk losing substantial legal fees."