On the heels of the 50th anniversary of Armstrong’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon, a 93-page collection of documents revealed the surviving members of his family received a private, $6 million settlement in 2014, two years after his death from surgery-related complications in an Ohio hospital.
The documents, obtained by the New York Times, had their authenticity validated by Ohio’s Hamilton County Probate Court.
Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital, just two weeks after undergoing bypass surgery in the same facility.
Shortly after his initial heart procedure, Armstrong’s second wife, Carol Held Knight, told the Associated Press that he was “amazingly resilient” and could walk.
It’s now known, according to the Times, the retired astronaut began to have a series of complications after nurses removed wires from his temporary pacemaker, causing Armstong to “bleed into the membrane surrounding the heart, leading to a cascade of problems that resulted in his death.”
The obtained documents show that following their father’s death, Mark and Rick Armstrong accused Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital of “incompetent post-surgical care” that ultimately resulted in the astronaut’s death.
Months before the secret settlement was reached in 2014, Wendy Armstrong, the family’s attorney and wife of Mark, composed a letter to Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital threatening that Armstrong’s sons would go public with their ongoing lawsuit, generating bad publicity for the facility.
“This event at Kennedy Space Center will receive national news coverage,” Wendy Armstrong wrote, reported NYT. “Rick and Mark have been solicited by several book writers and filmmakers for ‘information about Neil that no one already knows.’”
Soon after, the medical facility reached a settlement in order to avoid a public relations nightmare from their alleged flawed care of the man said to be “among the greatest of American heroes” by the White House in 2012.
The outlet reports the original payout the family sought was $7 million. The final $6 million payout was divvied up between multiple individuals, with $5.2 million being split between Armstrong’s two sons. Dean A. Armstrong and June L. Hoffman, Armstrong’s siblings, received $250,000 each, and six of the astronaut’s grandchildren were each given $24,000.
The hospital group’s spokeswoman, Nanette Bentley, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday that the release of the settlement was “very disappointing,” and claimed both the medical facility and the family wanted to keep the details of the legal matter “private.”
Despite the settlement, Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital defends the post-surgical care given to Armstrong.