Detroit EMT sued for infant's death after she refused to respond
The suit against the city, FD and EMT Thomas is for gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress
By Katrease Stafford
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — The family of an 8-month-old girl who died after an emergency medical technician refused to go to her home when she stopped breathing has filed a lawsuit against the City of Detroit and the Detroit Fire Department, seeking at least $1 million in damages.
The family, who is being represented by the Geoffrey Fieger Law Firm, is suing the city and fire department on two counts of gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Representatives for the City of Detroit could not be immediately reached for comment.
Attorney Jim Craig of the Fieger law firm said the family is suing for "several millions" of dollars, although no firm figure has been cited.
"It really is shocking and it's just disgusting," Craig said. "Obviously the woman was removed by the fire chief but it’s unfathomable. You do this for years and you never see something this."
On May 30, the baby, I'Nayah Wright-Trussel, stopped breathing in her home in the 19000 block of Glastonbury Road in Detroit, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court.
I'Nayah's mother, Janee Wright-Trussel, called the baby's grandmother who then called 911. The call was relayed to the City of Detroit Emergency Medical Services who said an EMS unit would be dispatched to the residence.
Ann Marie Thomas, who was a certified emergency medical technician employed by the City of Detroit and assigned to the Detroit Fire Department, was dispatched to the scene.
Thomas, who was named in the lawsuit, was told that a premature baby was struggling to breathe and she needed to make it to the scene.
The family again called 911 to restate that the baby had stopped breathing and she needed help immediately.
After being instructed to go to the scene, the lawsuit says, Thomas drove toward the house but when she arrived, instead of rushing to help save the infant's life, she parked her emergency vehicle around the corner from the house.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas waited six minutes before telling dispatchers that she didn't' want to help. Thomas said, "I'm not about to be on no scene 10 minutes doing CPR, you know how these families get," the lawsuit says.
City dispatchers pleaded with Thomas to go help the baby, according to the lawsuit, and one said: "I'm going to need you to make that scene. You're going to have to make patient contact."
Thomas refused, according to the lawsuit. Another EMS team arrived at the home and began to administer CPR. The baby was taken to Sinai-Grace Hospital, but she died the next morning on May 31.
Following the baby's death, Detroit authorities investigated. Detroit Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins announced at the end of June that Thomas had been fired.
According to the lawsuit, the investigation determined that Thomas' actions "directly contributed to an approximate 19-minute response-time delay."
The lawsuit says Thomas was grossly negligent and had committed acts of intentional misconduct as well as acts of malfeasance. Thomas' "conduct was so reckless that it demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for whether any injury would result" to I'Nayah, the lawsuit states.
I'Nayah and her family sustained serious trauma including conscious pain and suffering; medical and burial costs, and fright, shock and terror, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit also alleges that Thomas' actions resulted in severe emotional distress of the family.
Craig said the baby's mother and grandmother are still in shock.
"This is something that everybody should be concerned about," he said. "This is something that could affect anyone. Having a paramedic come to the scene and refuse to help,who does that? It's unheard of."
A status conference has been set for 8 a.m., Oct. 19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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