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City not held responsible for negligence

In large metropolises like Los Angeles, California, and beyond, numerous public safety and emergency services are in place to respond to the needs of citizens promptly. In fact, standards often dictate how and when issues like medical emergencies should be addressed by skilled first responders. That’s why negligence and/or wrongdoing on the part of city-run ambulance services can be so disturbing. Unfortunately though, wrongful death lawsuits against municipalities can also be some of the hardest to achieve.

One example of a wrongful death suit against a major city being rejected involves a woman who sadly died before receiving medical attention in New York City. The woman and her long-term boyfriend were apparently walking a short distance in the midst of a blizzard when she began experiencing what she believed to be a heart attack. The alleged victim’s boyfriend is reported to have called 911 numerous times for the incapacitated woman, but she died outside in the snow before an ambulance arrived on scene. The suit claims that the ambulance showed up two hours after the boyfriend’s first call and that he was misled to believe emergency responders were on their way.

Since the city’s emergency response system has been updated, it’s estimated that over 4,000 calls in two months to 911 have had errors, leading to potentially deadly delays. However, there is precedence for not holding the city responsible in such instances. The suit filed against the city by the woman’s family was rejected in court because her boyfriend called for help in place of her or an immediate family member.

According to the presiding judge in the case, the suit may have stood if the woman had not been rendered unconscious, and was therefore able to call 911 herself.

Source: nydailynews.com, “Wrongful death lawsuit by family of woman who died waiting for ambulance thrown out because she did not make 911 call herself,” Barbara Ross, Dareh Gregorian, Sep. 6, 2013

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