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View Full Version : Maybe it's best to just let some people die



savafan
08-06-2005, 01:30 PM
http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?S=3688447

(Old Saybrook-WTNH, Aug. 5, 2005 5:53 PM) _ A woman saved from a submerged car in the Connecticut River is now suing the town which rescued her. An attorney for Barbara Connors says his client suffered permanent brain damage because Old Saybrook did not have the right equipment to save her quick enough.

by News Channel 8's Tina Detelj
The lawsuit has surprised many in town who say the efforts of those rescuers saved this woman's life. This suit though targets the town, saying this accident could have been prevented and the rescue could have been quicker.

Last October, First Selectman Mike Pace honored those who rescued 76-year-old Barbara Connors and her son-in-law after his Ford Explorer plunged into the mouth of the Connecticut River. Today Pace finds himself defending those same rescuers from a lawsuit.

"It seems like a penalty for doing what was right, quick, and just."

Connors' attorney Robert Reardon says it took rescuers twenty-nine minutes to pull her from the submerged SUV. And he says if a dive team were in place things would be different.

"Unfortunately it took a great deal of time to get the diving equipment there that was needed to get down into this car and save this woman, and as a result she suffered severe brain injury, says Reardon.

Connors is also suing her son-in-law, Alan Hauser, who said he hit the accelerator instead of the brake causing the Explorer to crash through the fence and into the river.

The suit against the town does not name rescuers, but rather the first selectman and other town administrators. The suit says the fence was inadequate. It also says the town should have had signs indicating the dangerous conditions and it says the town should have had more police patrolling this area.

"What more visual clue than looking at the water to tell you not to go forward," says Pace.

"There's no question guardrails would have prevented it," says Reardon. "Guard rails stop vehicles from going off cliffs and into the water."

Today some enjoying this shoreline spot were surprised by the suit.

"You could put up a bigger barrier here but that wouldn't prevent something from happening again," says Phil Appell of Old Saybrook.

"She out to be thankful for everybody who saved her," says Steve Slifka of Old Saybrook. "She shouldn't be suing."

"I think it's wrong because they saved her life," says Pat Light of Westbrook.

Connors is now in a nursing home. Her attorney says she is grateful to the rescuers, but believes if the right equipment and signs were in place this would never have happened.

traderumor
08-06-2005, 01:35 PM
Ambulance Chasing 101. I hope the judge throws the case and the attorney out on his ear, with all due respect to the attorneys on this board.

SunDeck
08-06-2005, 01:46 PM
Reality check from a former first responder- sometimes we screw up.

Been there myself. Not saying this particular case isn't garbage, but failing to deploy a rescue operation for a half an hour is pretty bad, if it's true. I was sued once when a patient on the ambulance I was driving ended up with staff. We didn't get any thanks for the epi shot that got her heart going again, only an invitation to give a deposition.

I have also seen improper ventilation of a building that caused flashover conditions and a pretty nasty explosion. Did the ladder company pay for the extra repairs caused by that? Then there was the Engineer who turned the wrong way out of the firehouse and took an extra five minutes to arrive on scene. That probably cost about $40,000 to the structure and the crew was just lucky there wasn't any entrapment.

traderumor
08-06-2005, 02:08 PM
Reality check from a former first responder- sometimes we screw up.

Been there myself. Not saying this particular case isn't garbage, but failing to deploy a rescue operation for a half an hour is pretty bad, if it's true. I was sued once when a patient on the ambulance I was driving ended up with staff. We didn't get any thanks for the epi shot that got her heart going again, only an invitation to give a deposition.

I have also seen improper ventilation of a building that caused flashover conditions and a pretty nasty explosion. Did the ladder company pay for the extra repairs caused by that? Then there was the Engineer who turned the wrong way out of the firehouse and took an extra five minutes to arrive on scene. That probably cost about $40,000 to the structure and the crew was just lucky there wasn't any entrapment.I guess that is probably the only recourse the public has for accountablility with emergency services. It makes you wonder if municipalities would spend the money they do for training and being able to offer competitive salaries (knowing that sometimes they are not) and benefits to these workers if there was not the pressure of getting sued when things do go wrong.

SunDeck
08-06-2005, 02:18 PM
I don't know. I didn't understand the details of the case I was involved in, but it seemed more like a malpractice claim. For the most part, I believe it's a steep climb to successfully sue a city for the actions of its fire department. After all, in many cases the variables are so numerous that it's hard to say what the causes of the problem would have been. I mean, if a firefighter slips off a roof gable and damages his equipment then it's easily a five minute delay while he goes and gets another saw or axe, then ascends the ladder again to start over. That time lost could result in many problems and even injury or death. But, it's not negligence by any stretch.

Post edit: I was under the impression also that municipalities had some sort of immunity against suits like this, such as "good samaritan" laws. Legal experts can elighten us here, I guess.

REDREAD
08-07-2005, 10:01 PM
Ridiculous lawsuit. Hope it gets tossed.

cincinnati chili
08-07-2005, 10:45 PM
Post edit: I was under the impression also that municipalities had some sort of immunity against suits like this, such as "good samaritan" laws. Legal experts can elighten us here, I guess.

Sovereign immunity, in general, is breaking down around the country. However, it does still hold water in most jurisdictions.

Three questions here:

1. Does the town have a DUTY to save chuckleheads who fall in the water?

2. If so, did the town take REASONABLE CARE in purchasing rescue equipment, training people, etc. ? (not perfect care, but reasonable care)

3. If neither 1 nor 2 or met, is this suit frivolous enough to warrant sanctions against the plaintiff's attorney? (not likely)