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Fire department in California sued for wrongful death

The Yermo Fire Department and others are facing litigation after the death of a husband and father on Nov. 8, 2013. The wrongful death suit filed by the man's wife and daughter alleges that improper training, a failure to implement a system of effective, coordinated emergency services and conscious disregard for a patient's needs all led to the man's death. A hearing is set for Jan. 5, but a defendant's attorney claims that the accusations are baseless.

The lawsuit reports that the man had a medical emergency, and his wife called 911 around 4:13 a.m. Her husband had difficulty breathing and a reported history of congestive heart failure, and emergency responders had previously transported the man from his home to the hospital before. However, the chief of the fire department reportedly could not find the correct residence and did not arrive at the premises until 4:24 a.m., even though the fire station is located around half a mile away. While on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, the wife of the deceased man said that she could see the Yermo Fire Department pickup truck drive away from her residence.

Additionally, an ambulance with advanced life support features was cancelled by the fire chief, and the suit claims that the chief responded to the call himself even though he is not a certified or trained firefighter. The complaint asks that the plaintiffs receive general, compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees.

When someone's negligent actions contribute to the death of a loved one, a family can seek compensation with a wrongful death suit. This can help with funeral costs and medical expenses, and damages can even be awarded for emotional pain and suffering. While a hearing is scheduled for this case, a settlement agreement could also be reached out of court.

Source: Desert Dispatch, "Agencies named in wrongful death suit", Mike Lamb, November 08, 2014

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