The wife of comedian Bernie Mac is suing a Chicago doctor for her husband’s untimely death.
Rhonda McCullough has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against dermatologist Rene M. Earle after she says he kept her husband at his clinic for nine hours when he was sick before calling an ambulance.
The SunTimes reports that in the lawsuit filed Thursday, McCullough states that Earle kept Bernie, real name Bernard McCullough, in his office for an extended period of time on July 17, 2008 when he should have noticed signs of respiratory failure and called an ambulance.
The comedian suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that caused lesions on his head, face and neck and had been treated by Earle for 20 years.
Earle told The Sun Times about that fateful July day saying,
“He walked in, he looked a little weak and I said, ‘Bernie what’s wrong?’ and he said, ‘I had a little cold and a doctor at Northwestern gave me an injection for it.’ “
The doctor says he let Mac rest for several hours after his treatment and realized something was wrong when he woke up.
“It seemed to me he was having a drug reaction to whatever the doctor gave him at Northwestern that day. He then called Mac’s doctor at Northwestern, who told him the comedian had been diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia–and should have been in the hospital.”
Bernie was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia. He died from complications related to pneumonia on Aug. 9, 2008, at age 50.
Earle says he’s unsure how to react against the allegations against him because he believes he took good care of his friend who he described as his brother.
“He didn’t die the next day, he didn’t die in two days. He died in two weeks and he got over his original strain of pneumonia. He got another strain of pneumonia while he was in the hospital.”
The lawsuit says that Earle “failed to recognize cardiopulmonary instability in Bernie” and “failed to recognize and act upon abnormal vital signs and signs of respiratory failure.”
McCullough is seeking at least $50,000 in damages.