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Lawyers Announce Settlement of Families’ Lawsuits

February 24, 1990

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Drake Memorial Hospital has paid $2.3 million to settle all lawsuits filed by families of 26 patients that former nurse’s aide Donald Harvey confessed to killing, lawyers announced Friday.

Lawyers for the hospital and the families will ask county Common Pleas Judge William Morrissey to dismiss the lawsuits, said James Burke, a lawyer asked by Hamilton County commissioners to help negotiate the settlement.

The lawsuits were filed after Harvey pleaded guilty, beginning in August 1987, to 37 murders in Ohio and Kentucky. The victims also included patients at Marymount Hospital in London, Ky., where Harvey worked in 1970 and 1971.

Harvey, who said he killed his victims by poisoning them or suffocating them with plastic bags, is serving three consecutive life sentences in an Ohio prison.

The hospital did not admit any wrongdoing in the deaths. Lawyers said Drake officials reached the settlement to avert a trial.

″The plaintiffs continue to believe in their position, and the defendants continue to deny that they are legally responsible for Harvey’s actions,″ lawyers for both sides said in a joint statement.

At the time of the murders to which Harvey confessed, Drake Hospital was owned by Hamilton County. The hospital sold its assets to the University of Cincinnati in July 1989 and is now known as Drake Center Inc.

The settlement does not affect Drake Center, Burke said.

A lawyer for the families of eight of Harvey’s victims, Paul Martins, said of the settlement, ″I think it’s fair, in weighing everything. It certainly doesn’t compensate for all of the loss. The reason to settle is, from a practical standpoint, not putting these poor people through a trial.″

Martins said the families also obtained an agreement through which they could collect damages of as much as $11 million from Harvey should he ever earn money from movies or books about the murders.

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