Family Claims Grandmother Was Frozen Alive in Hospital Morgue

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Maria de Jesus Arroyo (Family/CNN)

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LOS ANGELES (CNN) - It's a case that sounds like the plot of a horror movie.  A family claims a woman was prematurely declared dead at a hospital -- and woke up in a body bag, only to die in a freezer where her body was stored.

Now, her outraged and grieving family has received the go-ahead to proceed with its lawsuit.

Maria de Jesus Arroyo's family claims she was prematurely declared dead and put in the mortuary alive.

The family's attorney says the woman's body was found upside down in the body bag, a different position than she was put in.

The attorney hired an expert to review the case, who said in sworn testimony this shows she woke up due to extreme cold, being in the freezer, and damaged her face as she tried to fight her way out.

Maria de Jesus Arroyo (Family/CNN)
Maria de Jesus Arroyo (Family/CNN)

The expert said Arroyo, 80, was found with the bodybag approximately halfway open, consistent with her struggle to get out.  And, the expert says Arroyo died not of a heart attack, but asphyxiation and hypothermia.

A judge initially dismissed the case, but the appeals court reversed it and sent it back for a jury trial.

"This case deserves a jury verdict, and a jury will rule on it," the family's attorney said.

A trial date has not yet been set.

A spokesperson for the hospital says they can't comment on the matter, since it's in litigation.

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