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October 22, 2015

Jury rules hospital, doctor not liable for Pa. woman's 'Polar Bear Plunge' death

In lawsuit, Tracy Hottenstein's family claimed medical professionals didn't take adequate steps to save her

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Tracy Hottenstein of Conshohocken, Montgomery County, died after attending an icy-water Polar Bear Plunge in Sea Isle City, N.J. in 2009.

A federal jury on Tuesday ruled medical professionals are not liable for the death of a Pennsylvania woman who was found hours after falling off a pier and into frigid water during the 2009 Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge at the Jersey Shore.

The lawsuit, filed by the victim's family, had claimed that Tracy Hottenstein, 35, of Conshohocken, Montgomery County, was denied life-saving medical care and prematurely pronounced dead, according to The Associated Press.

The lawsuit had named AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center and the doctor who pronounced Hottenstein dead as the defendants.

According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the lawsuit claimed the victim was “never examined for hypothermia, a condition in which victims may have no heartbeat but can be resuscitated.”

The lawsuit also included details leading up to Hottenstein’s death, including the fact that she had been drinking with friends the night before the town's annual Polar Bear Plunge, an event in which participants jump into ice-cold water in February, and that she didn't take the plunge but fell off a pier later.

She was found several hours later, at which time, according to the New Jersey Law Journal, police at the scene determined she was not breathing and had no carotid pulse.

The federal jury reached its verdict after a five-week trial.

Read the full report The Associated Press and the New Jersey Law Journal.