Documents: Fairfield Hospital Paid $6 Million Settlement Over Neil Armstrong's Death

Armstrong's family alleged in a lawsuit that his death at 82 from complications related to heart surgery was preventable

Jul 24, 2019 at 3:41 pm
click to enlarge Neil Armstrong's 2012 memorial service in Indian Hill - NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA/Bill Ingalls
Neil Armstrong's 2012 memorial service in Indian Hill

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital paid $6 million to 10 members of Neil Armstrong's family in 2014 to settle a lawsuit over the astronaut's death, court documents first reported by The New York Times show.

The lawsuit from the family of the first man to walk on the moon alleged that avoidable post-surgical complications from a heart procedure caused their father's death at 82 in 2012. 

Earlier that year, Armstrong was hospitalized in Fairfield with symptoms related to heart disease. Doctors there elected to perform bypass surgery immediately, a call that would later be questioned by other medical experts. At first, Armstrong seemed to be recovering following the procedure but then suffered internal bleeding after the removal of temporary wires designed to help keep his heartbeat regular. Hospital staff then made efforts to stop that bleeding — some also criticized by medical experts hired by Armstrong's family — but Armstrong died a week later. 

The hospital defended its care in legal filings but settled the case to avoid negative publicity. Secrecy was one of the conditions of the settlement, and the hospital even used a pseudonym — Ned Anderson — when speaking about the case with medical experts. 

Armstrong's two sons, Rick and Mark Armstrong, received $5.2 million of the settlement. Armstrong's brother and sister each received $250,000, and his six grandchildren got $24,000 each.

An attorney for Armstrong's grandchildren wrote that the settlement could be jeopardized if it was ever made public by any of the involved parties, according to The Times. 

“If the existence of the wrongful death action and settlement are ever revealed by the parties to the agreement, the entire payment must be repaid in full,” attorney Bertha G. Helmick wrote in a filing in Hamilton County courts. 

The Times received documents about the settlement from an anonymous source and confirmed them with records held by the Hamilton County Probate Court.  

The nation recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's July 20, 1969 walk on the moon. Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta and lived in Hamilton County at the time of his death.