$172 million verdict: Paramedics’ bad advice led to girl’s brain damage

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A jury has awarded $172 million in a lawsuit against New York City that alleged paramedics gave bad advice that resulted in severe brain damage to a 12-year-old girl.

The Bronx jury reached the verdict -- one of the largest of its kind in city history -- this week after a three week trial.

New York State law has generally held that the city cannot be sued for how emergency crews handle calls unless a special promise is made to the person being helped, under what is known as the "special duty" doctrine.

In its ruling, a Bronx jury found that paramedics did meet that doctrine in how they handled the case of Tiffany Applewhite.

In February 1998, Applewhite, then 12, went into anaphylactic shock and her heart stopped after a nurse gave her a shot of steroids for an eye condition in her family's apartment. Tiffany's mother, Samantha Applewhite, called 911, and the city sent two medics in an ambulance. That ambulance didn't have the advanced life support equipment that Tiffany needed, and the paramedics failed to bring oxygen or a defibrillator, according to court documents and trial evidence.

Tiffany's mother had pleaded with the paramedics to take her daughter to the nearby Montefiore Hospital. Instead, they advised her to wait for the private ambulance with advanced life support equipment to arrive. When that ambulance arrived 20 minutes later, paramedics gave her epinephrine and oxygen and transported her to Montefiore. She suffered severe brain damage, is paralyzed and mute, but still fully aware.

Jury members decided the paramedics were negligent by advising the family to wait rather than taking the girl to the hospital immediately.

Ross Feller Casey is the recognized leader in traumatic brain injury lawsuits and medical malpractice litigation in Philadelphia and across the nation.

If you or a loved one has suffered severe brain damage as a result of medical negligence or mistakes by emergency workers, you may be entitled to compensation. But your time may be limited. You should contact the brain injury lawyers at Ross Feller Casey immediate for a free case review.

For more information, go to www.rossfellercasey.com/practice-areas/brain-injuries/

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