updated 3/8/2007 9:45:22 PM ET 2007-03-09T02:45:22

The city has settled a $20 million lawsuit filed by the family of a veteran New York Times reporter whose beating death raised questions about the city's emergency medical services, the mayor said Thursday.

David Rosenbaum, 63, was beaten with a heavy plastic pipe during a mugging near his home in January 2006. The family alleged that the people responsible for helping Rosenbaum — from emergency medical workers to hospital staff — failed him.

"What happened to this family when they lost their loved one that night should never have happened," said Mayor Adrian Fenty at a news conference with Rosenbaum's family.

In the settlement, the city will not pay any money to the family. Instead, the family has agreed to withdraw the lawsuit and give the District of Columbia one year to improve emergency medical services. If it does not improve, the family can refile the lawsuit.

The settlement requires the district to create a task force to investigate the city's emergency response and issue a report with recommendations to improve the services within six months, according to the settlement. The task force will include a member from Rosenbaum's family.

Rosenbaum, a longtime reporter in the Times' Washington bureau, had retired just days before the attack.

Emergency staff thought he was drunk
Emergency workers initially believed he was drunk and didn't try to determine whether he was injured, a city report found. An ambulance bypassed the closest hospital and took him to Howard University Hospital, nearly two miles out of the way.

At the hospital, nurses incorrectly classified him as intoxicated and failed to regularly check his vital signs. The neurological team did not evaluate him until 2 a.m. Jan. 7, nearly four hours after he arrived, and it was almost 6 a.m. when he went to the operating room, the lawsuit said. He died the next day.

Howard University Hospital remains a defendant in the lawsuit, said Patrick Regan, the Rosenbaums' lawyer.

A message seeking comment from the hospital was not immediately returned.

Two men have been convicted for their involvement in Rosenbaum's death.

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