Fla. county may settle in wrongful death 911 response lawsuit
A woman who took pills with alcohol died hours after paramedics and sheriff's deputies left her home
Carlos E. Medina
Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.
MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Kathryn Krapf took a handful of pills and chased them down with some alcohol in the early morning hours of March 2, 2018. Her husband called 911 after she told him what she had done.
When Marion County paramedics and sheriff's deputies arrived, they found a semi-conscious Krapf. They found an empty pill bottle and two small empty liquor bottles nearby. But the empty pill bottle was an old prescription and her current medications did not have many pills missing.
There was a cryptic note left by Krapf stating she was sorry, but not specifying suicide. Her husband told officials of a previous stint in protective custody, known as a Baker Act, and felt she would not want to go through it again.
So officials left.
Seven hours later, Krapf was dead.
On Tuesday, the County Commission will consider a settlement with Krapf's estate. Commissioners will vote on whether to pay $190,000 in the wrongful death claim, according to an item on the commission's agenda.
The county's attorney, Matthew Minter, recommends commissioners approve the settlement.
"I have negotiated a full settlement with respect to the County... (But for the sovereign immunity caps, this type of case would have significantly higher exposure for damages.)" Minter wrote in a summary of the issue.
The state's sovereign immunity law limits the amount government agencies have to pay out in damages.
"Neither (Marion County Fire Rescue) nor (Marion County Sheriff's Office) transported Ms. Krapf to a hospital. There was an assumption that she was simply under the influence of alcohol and should just sleep it off. In this situation, the deputy sheriff had authority to Baker Act Ms. Krapf, and our paramedic could have transported her to the Emergency Department," Minter's summary notes.
A toxicology report on Krapf found she had more than 30 times the normal dose of nortriptyline, an anti-depressant, in her system. It was the same medication listed on the empty pill bottle found at the scene.
"It is possible that if the first responders had immediately transported her to the ED, the simple administration of activated charcoal to purge her system may have saved her life," the summary states.
The settlement would include a release for the county commission and county employees from future lawsuits on the issue. The summary notes a similar claim against the Sheriff's Office is pending. The legal claims against the county and Sheriff's Office are not tied to a current lawsuit. But they may lead to lawsuits without settlements.
It was not clear late Friday if any county employees were sanctioned in connection with the incident.
©2020 the Ocala Star-Banner (Ocala, Fla.)