The Fresno Bee reported on October 5, 2021 that a Fresno County, California jury has awarded a 39-year-old man and his wife nearly $50 million ($39.8 million for past economic losses, future economic losses, medical expenses, and pain and suffering sustained by the man and an additional $10 million awarded by the jury to his wife) for the catastrophic and permanent injuries the man suffered when ambulance personnel removed and then attempted to reinsert his breathing tube while being transported to a hospital in an ambulance owned and operated by American Ambulance. Because the paramedics failed in their attempts to reinsert the breathing tube, the man suffered cardiac arrest leading to brain damage. The man has been in a persistent vegetative state for over three years.
The man was undergoing an endoscopy on March 14, 2018 to investigate why he had internal bleeding. During the endoscopy, he woke up unexpectedly and had to be intubated (a breathing tube inserted so that he could be oxygenated). He was transported from the facility where the endoscopy was being performed to the hospital as a precaution and to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment.
The California lawsuit alleged gross negligence by the American Ambulance staff. The chief administrative officer and general counsel of American Ambulance stated on behalf of the company, “Our paramedics treated Mr. Merlo like they would any patient and followed their training and procedures to do everything they could to improve his declining condition.”
The jury deliberated for two hours before rendering its verdict on October 5, 2021. The plaintiffs’ lawyer stated after the verdict, “They (American Ambulance) tried to blame Clovis Community (Medical Center), they tried to blame everyone, but in the end, the jury found no one was at fault but them.” American Ambulance is evaluating its post-verdict options, including a possible appeal.
(a) In addition to the provisions of Section 1799.104 of this code, Section 2727.5 of the Business and Professions Code, and Section 1714.2 of the Civil Code, and in order to encourage the provision of emergency medical services by firefighters, police officers or other law enforcement officers, EMT-I, EMT-II, EMT-P, or registered nurses, a firefighter, police officer or other law enforcement officer, EMT-I, EMT-II, EMT-P, or registered nurse who renders emergency medical services at the scene of an emergency or during an emergency air or ground ambulance transport shall only be liable in civil damages for acts or omissions performed in a grossly negligent manner or acts or omissions not performed in good faith. A public agency employing such a firefighter, police officer or other law enforcement officer, EMT-I, EMT-II, EMT-P, or registered nurse shall not be liable for civil damages if the firefighter, police officer or other law enforcement officer, EMT-I, EMT-II, EMT-P, or registered nurse is not liable.
Health and Safety Code – HSC, Division 2.5. Emergency Medical Services, Chapter 9. Liability Limitation, Section 1799.106.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm as a result of paramedic negligence in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a California medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your paramedic malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a paramedic malpractice case, if appropriate.
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