Family of man strangled at Aventura Hospital files lawsuit - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Family of man strangled at Aventura Hospital files lawsuit

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From left: Francis Paloumbis, Giovanna Paloumbis, Ervin Gonzalez From left: Francis Paloumbis, Giovanna Paloumbis, Ervin Gonzalez
Raul Alexander Rios Raul Alexander Rios
31-year-old Alexander Thadeus Jackson 31-year-old Alexander Thadeus Jackson
Francis Paloumbis Francis Paloumbis
Giovanna Paloumbis Giovanna Paloumbis

AVENTURA, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida family is taking legal action days after, police said, a loved one was killed by his hospital roommate.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, the family of Raul Alexander Rios demanded that Aventura Hospital should be held accountable for his murder. "Every day, my mother says, 'I can't live without him. I'm nothing without him. He was my life,'" said Francis Paloumbis, Rios' sister. "So now what do we do? Who pays for this?"

Rios, 32, was found dead inside his hospital room on June 26. Police said his roommate and fellow patient, 31-year-old Alexander Thadeus Jackson, killed him. Jackson, who has been charged with first-degree murder, reportedly admitted to strangling Rios with his hands and a bed sheet. Rios was just a few days away from returning home after being treated for depression and a psychiatric disorder.

Family attorney Ervin Gonzalez questioned the hospital staff's decision to put Jackson in the same room as Rios. "How this man was placed into the room of a helpless 32-year-old man who wouldn't hurt a fly, was able to strangle him to death, and his body, Raul's body was down for about, almost an hour without being discovered," he said, "you just scratch your head and say, 'How could this happen? How is this possible?'"

Gonzalez said hospital officials have not given Rios' family an explanation as to how a convicted felon deemed violent and dangerous, who also suffers from a mental illness, would end up in the same room as Rios. He also questioned how such an act could go unnoticed for as long as it did. "We asked them for an explanation; no response," he said. "So ultimately we filed this lawsuit because they will have to respond."

Giovanna Paloumbis, Rios' mother, said she trusted Aventura Hospital, which she chose because it had been highly recommended to her. She said she never expected to receive a phone call informing her that her son had been killed in his hospital room.

The family's not only seeking damages for their pain and suffering. They said they also want to make sure some changes are made to make sure other patients are safe during their hospital stay. "One day, everything is going great, and then your son is strangled by a bedsheet at the hospital you left him in," said Francis. "Put yourself in our shoes and see just for a second how we're living."

Gonzalez said the family has not chosen a monetary figure. They said they will be leaving that up to a jury, a process that could take up to a year.

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