A girl who suffered brain damage while waiting for an ambulance won a $172 million judgment against New York City when a Bronx jury determined that Fire Department paramedics could be held liable for giving her mother bad advice, reports The New York Times.
The jury reached a verdict after a three-week trial in State Supreme Court, said Thomas A. Moore, a lawyer for the girl’s family. It was one of the largest awards of its kind in city history.
Fay Leoussis, the chief of the tort division in the Law Department, said the city would appeal the verdict. “While this is a tragic case, we believe that the jury’s verdict is not consistent with the law,” she said.
City officials say they are also hopeful that the award might be reduced by the appellate court.
The trial came after the Court of Appeals ruled last year that the city’s blanket immunity from lawsuits arising from the performance of normal government functions, like responding to 911 calls, did not apply in this case.
It was not immediately clear if the verdict would have an effect on how city ambulance crews operate, assuming the decision is upheld by appellate courts. State case law has generally held that the city cannot be sued for handling of emergency calls unless a special promise is made to the person being helped. This is known as the “special duty” doctrine.
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