Iowa Supreme Court Hears Slipknot Member’s Wrongful Death Case

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A wrongful death suit over the late Slipknot bassist was heard in front of the Iowa Supreme Court Tuesday.

Paul Gray died of a drug overdose in 2010 when his wife was three months pregnant with their daughter. His family says it was from drugs illegally prescribed by Des Moines doctor Daniel Baldi. Gray's family is suing Baldi for wrongful death, however, Iowa's statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years.

His family says it was from drugs illegally prescribed by Des Moines doctor Daniel Baldi. Gray's family is suing Baldi for wrongful death, however, Iowa's statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years.

At the time of Gray's death, his wife was three months pregnant with their daughter. Four years later, in February of 2014, Gray's estate, his wife and child filed a lawsuit against Baldi.

The lawsuit sought to recover financial damages for what they claim is the wrongful death of Gray.  But a district judge dismissed the case because he said it was passed the statute of limitations.

The judge said the suit was filed two years too late. The appeal before the Supreme Court is about whether that was the right call.

“What happened in this case was that Mr. Gray had various drug addiction problems. He was seeking medical help and had sought medical help for some period of time. He ended up dying, and the question in this case is whether or not the medical personnel doctors and hospitals treating him had created any medical malpractice relating to it,” said Bruce Stoltze, attorney for Gray’s estate.

But Baldi’s attorney argues the statute of limitations is valuable.

“We believe that the statute of limitations is not ambiguous. The court’s been down this road before with Stoltze. It’s an analysis that holds true. Death is the same now as death as it was then,” Eric Hoch said.

The case raises important questions about when a person in Iowa may bring a lawsuit stemming from a claim of medical malpractice and about the rights of an unborn child to recover for the death of her father. Iowa code says if a medical malpractice claim is brought on a child's behalf who was under the age of 8 at the time of the alleged event, then the behavior lawsuit must start no later than the child's 10th birthday.

Gray's attorney argues since the child was unborn at the time of her father's death, her claim should proceed.

A decision from the Supreme Court can be expected as early as May but no later than June.

Baldi was cleared criminally in Gray's death after jurors acquitted the doctor of manslaughter in the overdoses of Gray and several other patients.