Case Against Lazy EMT Workers Dismissed On Technicality

Unconscious woman didn't request help herself

EMTs Pregnant Woman
AP
The story of the Brooklyn Au Bon Pain worker who died of an asthma attack took an outrage-provoking turn when a judge, who was handling a lawsuit filed by the worker's family, threw the suit out on a technicality due to the fact that the unconscious woman didn't personally request medical attention.

The suit, which stems from worker Eutisha Rennix's death in 2009, found the family pressing charges against the two city medics who couldn't be bothered to cut their lunch break short when Rennix, who was then six months pregnant, began to have difficulty breathing.

EMS dispatchers Melisa Jackson and Jason Green, who happened to be having lunch at the eatery, were notified by co-workers of Rennix's worsening condition. But after Jackson called 911, the two medics left without checking on Rennix, who'd been moved to a back room.

The worker was pronounced dead at the emergency room; her baby boy died two hours later after being delivered by C-section.

As the New York Daily News reported, Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest called the behavior of the medics "egregious," but tossed the suit filed by Rennix's family because of a state law saying that gross negligence can only be claimed if a "special duty" is owed to a stricken person. This means that the victim or an immediate family member must make the request for help themselves.

EMTs Pregnant Woman
APThe family of Eutisha Rennix

"I feel like the city treated my daughter in the same heartless and inhuman way that [the medics] did," the worker's mother, Cynthia Rennix, told the Daily News. "How could my daughter have called 911 if she was unconscious? It's crazy. And it's unfair."

While Green was murdered a year after the woman's death, an FDNY spokesman said that Jackson still faces internal discipline for not coming to Rennix's aid.

Sanford Rubenstein, who served as Cynthia Rennix's attorney, spoke out against the technicality that caused the case to be dismissed. "This technicality, which clearly is not in the interest of New Yorkers, particularly those whose wrongful death might have been prevented, must be addressed by either the appellate courts or the governor and the state Legislature," he told the Daily News.

Rennix's isn't the first case to be thrown out on this technicality. Last year, the city dismissed a suit filed by the family of Ariel Russo, a four-year-old who was killed by an unlicensed driver, because neither the child nor her grandmother, who was also injured in the accident, made the 911 call personally.

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senfoghorn1

OK, apparently, the Brooklyn law says that to receive emergency medical treatment, you must personally call 911. So, remember Brooklynites (or visitors thereto) if you are shot, or hit by a car in Brooklyn and don't have a cell phone, you are required, by law, to tough it out/man up and walk to any available landline or stop a person on the street and ask to use their cell phone. (OR... [problem solved] you can just jog over to the nearest medical facility - not recommended for children, seniors and/or disabled..

May 21 2014 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wildturkey

I guess it's true, time to recycle Judges (If their dumb enough to issue this ruling, they don't belong on the bench., let em Run for President.

April 11 2014 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
maggie.christman

Were they medics or dispatchers? First they are labled dispatchers and then called EMT'S. If they were dispatchers then they did nothing wrong. Dispatchers usually have very little medical training. They would have not been able to do anything more than what her co-workers were already doing. If they were EMT'S, and on duty, then shame on them. The reason any of us get into this field is to care for those in need. I have missed many a holiday, a family event or a hot meal. The patient comes first and they should be reprimanded and removed from EMS field.

April 09 2014 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bullmesht

Don't blame the judge, blame the law.

April 09 2014 at 4:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bullmesht's comment
ilenedan2

No, I think I blame the judge because I believe there have been other cases that were similar that were NOT dismissed. This implies the judges managed to - oh, I don't know- maybe use some judgment?

May 21 2014 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nevuela

And what about laws regarding negligence or intentional harm to a pregnant woman that cause the baby to die? Surely they knew she was pregnant. Even if she didn't look it, surely somebody told them she was. Even if you DON'T know that a woman is pregnant, if you cause her baby to die, accident or not, you can be held accountable.

April 09 2014 at 4:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike

As an EMT myself a patient has the right to refuse medical treatment, no matter how serious their condition. However, once the patient becomes unconscious then implied consent takes over and the EMT's or Medics can begin treating the patient.

The patient had to request help herself which she didn't .

April 09 2014 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mike's comment
bbhuey4213

"The patient had to request help herself which she didn't ."

As I understand it she didn't request help herself because she was *unconscious*. Though I'm not an EMT and have very limited medical knowledge I suspect that losing consciousness would have made it a tad difficult for her to use a phone or to speak with those on the scene...

April 09 2014 at 11:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kematz

Common sense has been thrown out the window to put money in the pockets of lawyers and politicians. Sad times we are living in

April 09 2014 at 4:32 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Hoosierladyus48

That is bull crap! They need to held responsible. The idiot judge needs to be dismissed!

April 09 2014 at 4:19 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hoosierladyus48's comment
bbhuey4213

The one EMT can't be held responsible anymore as he was gunned down outside a nightclub several months after this happened. Can't help but wonder if he was left to die after being shot because he wasn't the one who called for help...

April 09 2014 at 11:10 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
marjorum

This story has been making the rounds in EMS circles for quite a while and this is the first time I have heard of them called dispatchers. Asthma can kill and frequently does dispite the best efforts of medical personnel. When I became a paramedic, I took an oath based on the Hippocratic oath to help those in need. My lunch has been interrupted hundreds of times due to a critical call. These so-called medics need their licenses lifted, PERMANENTLY.

April 09 2014 at 3:29 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
John

Rules and "technicalities" should never outweigh what is morally right. Our legal system should never be a game in which loopholes condone what is so obviously wrong. This is nothing short of sickening. It is cold, heartless and inhuman. It's VOLUNTARY man slaughter and it already came back on one and karma will get the other AND this sick soul who calls herself a judge. We pay her to PROTECT justice.

April 09 2014 at 3:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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