A family’s lawsuit against the city of New York based on the city’s handling of a December 2010 blizzard has been dismissed by a judge on an obscure technicality of the law with regard to delayed care lawsuits against the municipality.
In December 2010, the city of New York was blanketed by more than a foot of snow and plagued by the lack of a sufficient number of plows to quickly plow the streets. The unplowed streets were impassable by most motor vehicles, including emergency service vehicles like ambulances. The city officials’ inept response to the blizzard made ambulance times reach the 2-hour mark.
Kathleen Thomas, a 51 year-old resident of New York suffered a heart attack after she slipped on some accumulated snow and fell. Thomas’ boyfriend immediately dialed 911, but due to the blizzard, the ambulance arrived too late to save Thomas’s life.
Thomas’ family brought a lawsuit against the city of New York in New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan for negligence in failing to ensure that emergency vehicles could navigate the streets of the city during a blizzard.
This week, presiding judge Margaret Chan, granted the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The dismissal comes courtesy of an obscure provision in the law, which states that a lawsuit against the city for delay in provision of medical care can only be maintained if the 911 call was placed by the injured person or an immediate family member of the injured person. The judge reasoned that the boyfriend is not an immediate family member, and therefore Thomas’ family cannot maintain the lawsuit against the city.
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