W.Va. EMS agency, dispatch to pay $1.4M in teen's death

Leland Brown II died after it took 19 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to treat him for what was determined to be cardiac arrest

By Lacie Pierson
The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va — It took emergency personnel nearly 19 minutes to get to the St. Albans home of Leland Brown II after his mother called 911 when the 15-year-old boy collapsed in front of her on May 24, 2014.

An hour after his mother called 911, Brown arrived at the hospital and later was pronounced dead from suffering what was determined to be cardiac arrest.

Wednesday morning, approaching four years since Brown’s death, a Kanawha circuit judge approved a $1.4 million settlement against the Kanawha County Ambulance Authority and Kanawha Metro 911 as a result of the failure to provide timely and proper care to Brown, who, by all accounts, was a healthy and active teenager prior to his death.

The ambulance authority is responsible for paying $960,000 and Kanawha Metro will be responsible for $500,000, according to the settlement approved by Judge Tod Kaufman.

The money will be distributed to Brown’s family, and a portion of it will go toward paying attorneys’ fees and other costs, according to the terms of the settlement.

Kaufman addressed Brown’s younger sister in court, saying how sorry he was that she lost her brother at such a young age.

“Having lost a brother myself, I know that it’s just incredibly painful for you to have to go through this,” Kaufman said. “I know it in no way replaces your loss, but I do know you’ve been strong throughout this.”

At the time of his death, Brown was a freshman at St. Albans High School, where he played baseball and football.

“I don’t think anybody would dispute ... that Leland Brown II was beloved by the community, his family and friends in St. Albans,” said Robert Bastress, representing Leland Brown I, who is the administrator of his son’s estate.

The day Brown died was the same day as the funeral for Joe Beavers, a former ambulance authority board member, according to the lawsuit.

Ambulance authority officials planned to rotate ambulance units to Beavers’ funeral in Dunbar and requested Metro to do what’s called a “move-up,” and send other ambulances to cover Western Kanahwa County, according to court documents.

No move-up happened in regard to the ambulance station nearest to Brown’s home, according to the documents.

Beavers’ funeral began at 1 p.m on May 24, 2014.

At 1:08 p.m. that day, Brown’s mother, Mara, called 911 and reported that her son was playing basketball in the driveway at their St. Albans home with his friends when he came in and complained of chest pains.

She said she followed him up to his bedroom to check on him, and she found him unconscious.

It took 19 minutes for the first ambulance, which came from Alum Creek, to arrive on the scene, according to court documents.

“It seemed like forever,” she said during a deposition for the lawsuit.

Approximately 31 minutes after the original 911 call, Leland was intubated, to open up his airway, but the tube later dislodged, according to the lawsuit.

Emergency personnel also failed to do basic health checks on Brown, and they failed to administer anti-arrhythmic medications commonly used to treat a cardiac arrest that’s unresponsive to shock delivery and CPR, according to the lawsuit.

Brown wasn’t transported from his home to a hospital until 2 p.m., and the emergency personnel got lost on the way because the ambulances weren’t equipped with GPS software, according to the lawsuit.

Brown arrived at a local hospital at 2:09 p.m., one hour and one minute after his mother initially called 911, according to the lawsuit.

Brown was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m.

In Kaufman’s courtroom Wednesday, Leland Brown I said the money from the settlement stemming from his son’s death was being distributed evenly between him and Leland’s mother, his ex-wife.

“We both suffered equally,” he said.

Copyright 2018 The Charleston Gazette

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