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Estate Of Young ‘Poltergeist’ Actress Files Wrongful Death Suit

May 26, 1988 GMT

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A wrongful death suit was filed Wednesday against a hospital and an insurance group by the estate of Heather O’Rourke, the actress sucked into a swirling supernatural vacuum in the ″Poltergeist″ movies.

Heather died Feb. 1 on the operating table at Children’s Hospital of San Diego. She was 12.

She died of septic shock due to congenital stenosis of the intestine, a bowel blockage the girl evidently had from birth, hospital officials said at the time.

The suit, filed in San Diego Superior Court against Kaiser Foundation Hospital of San Diego and Southern California Permanente Medical Group on behalf of Kathleen O’Rourke Peel, Heather’s mother and administrator of her estate, does not specify damages.

″We want to be free to establish damages,″ said Sanford M. Gage, the O’Rourke family’s attorney.

Children’s Hospital spokeswoman Terry Merryman said she could not comment on the suit.

Kaiser Permanente spokesman Jim McBride said: ″About all we can say is that we have reviewed the case extensively and we are convinced that the care we provided was appropriate. But we can’t discuss the specifics any further.″

The lawsuit contends the hospital’s diagnosis led to Heather’s death.

″The doctors failed to recognize that she had a bowel obstruction since birth and misdiagnosed her condition. As a result, they prescribed medication instead of a relatively simple operation that would have cured her,″ Gage said.

In addition to her ″Poltergeist″ roles, Heather was a regular on television’s ″Happy Days,″ a recurring character on ″Webster″ and ″Still the Beaver″ and one of the stars in an ABC miniseries on teen-age suicide called ″Surviving.″