Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Suit lodged over death of Basehor woman

Action alleges negligence on part of EMS workers

November 23, 2005

The children of a Basehor woman who died two years ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Leavenworth County and two Emergency Medical Service employees.

Tammy Potts and Jim Wilson, of Basehor, filed the lawsuit Monday afternoon in Leavenworth County District Court. Potts and Wilson are the heirs of Alene Wilson, a Basehor woman who was denied emergency medical care in November 2003 and died the following month.

The lawsuit names the Leavenworth County Commission, as well as Karl Hendry and Michael Baxter-- the two EMS attendants who were called to Wilson's home in November 2003 -- as defendants.

In separate counts, the lawsuit alleges negligence, wrongful death and deliberate indifference in violation of Wilson's civil rights. It also maintains that the actions of the defendants "are outrageous and tantamount to reckless indifference and would shock the conscience of the community."

Two of the counts ask for damages in excess of $75,000.

The statute of limitations for the case was set to expire Nov. 23, and Monday's filing narrowly beat the deadline.

Michael Crow, Leavenworth, is one of the attorneys representing Wilson and Potts. He limited his comments on the lawsuit, but said his clients are "willing to cooperate with all the participants for a just resolution."

Leavenworth County has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit. County counselor David Van Parys did not comment on the lawsuit.

Paramedics were called to the Wilson home in 2003 because Potts and her brother, Jim Wilson, feared their mother had broken a hip. Alene Wilson, who doctors had diagnosed as suffering from hallucinations and dementia, refused to be transported to a hospital by ambulance workers.

Potts, who possessed durable power of attorney documents granting her rights to make medical and financial decisions for her mother, showed attendants those documents and told them to take Wilson to the hospital.

They didn't. After Potts scrambled to find alternative means of transporting her mother to the hospital, Wilson arrived at St. John Hospital in Leavenworth 17 hours after her fall.

She died from pneumonia 14 days later.

According to county officials, Hendry and Baxter still are Leavenworth County EMS employees. Hendry was hired in January 2002, and Baxter was hired in May 2003.

Potts took her case before the Kansas State Board of EMS, which investigated the incident last year. A letter from the board of EMS was attached to the suit filed Monday and indicated an investigatory committee determined Leavenworth County EMS operated with "a pattern of negligence or lack of supervision on critical care calls."

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