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Family sues jailed doctor in man's death

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The family of a man who died under hospital care two year ago filed a $10 million lawsuit Tuesday against a doctor now serving a five-year prison term for poisoning five fellow paramedics in Quincy, Ill.

The suit accuses Dr. Michael Swango of killing Ricky DeLong, 21, who authorities said died Jan. 20, 1984, after a ball of gauze was placed in his throat at University Hospitals.

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Swango, who was a resident at the hospital from July 1983 to June 1984, found DeLong's body while on his evening rounds, hospital records show. Swango described DeLong on his chart as unresponsive, breathless and without a pulse.

The suit was filed on behalf of DeLong's widow, Sherry, his parents, Patricia and James DeLong, and other family members.

Swango, 30, of Quincy, Ohio, is the only defendant in the suit, which includes a medical malpractice claim and a murder allegation.

The family filed a separate $10 million suit Jan. 17 against University Hospitals in the Ohio Court of Claims. That suit claimed a hospital employee negligently or intentionally placed the gauze in DeLong's throat and that the hospital was negligent in its hiring, training and supervision of medical employees.

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Swango has been under investigation by the Franklin County prosecutor's office and Ohio State University police in several patient deaths, including DeLong's.

DeLong's death originally was attributed to injuries from a Dec. 9, 1983, auto accident in Jackson County. When the body was exhumed for an autopsy last year, a ball of gauze was found in his throat.

Franklin County Coroner Dr. William Adrion ruled the death a homicide by asphyxiation. No criminal charges have been filed in the death.

County Prosecutor Michael Miller said he expects a detailed report on the Swango investigation from Assistant Prosecutor Edward Morgan by mid-Feburary, when he will decide whether to present evidence to a grand jury.

Swango was sentenced to five years in an Illinois prison for poisoning five co-workers in Quincy. None of them died.

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