Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston's Bankruptcy Estate Can Continue Wrongful Death/Elder Abuse Against Long-Term Hospital, Says Arizona Supreme Court

The late Billy Preston's bankruptcy estate can pick up and continue a wrongful death and elder abuse lawsuit against the long-term hospital in which he died in 2006.  The Arizona Supreme Court today refused to dismiss the case simply because it had been started by Preston's personal representatives before the Grammy-winners death.

While fighting the complications from a 2002 kidney transplant, Preston filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005 - the same year he went into a coma.  Following his death in 2006, personal representatives of his estate filed the elder abuse/wrongful death claim in state court.  The bankruptcy was also converted to Chapter 7 (liquidation) and a bankruptcy trustee was assigned.  Kindred Hospitals moved to dismiss the wrongful death claim on the grounds that it should have been filed by the bankruptcy trustee; the trial court agreed.

In a unanimous decision today, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' reversal of the trial court and said the case may continue.  The justices ended up by noting that it is "difficult to imagine how the substitution... could result in prejudice" to the hospital.

The late John Lennon had suggested that keyboardist extraordinaire Preston - who had met the Beatles in 1962 and played with them in 1969 (with credit, for Arizona-tinged "Get Back", as well as on "Don't Let Me Down" and the "Abbey Road" album).  He played with three of the four Beatles after the group broke apart, and had several top 10 solo hits (including "Will It Go Round In Circles" and "Nothing From Nothing").  Younger music buffs might remember him from his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and from his appearance on the (4th) season finale of American Idol.

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