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Large settlement approved in Florida wrongful death case

Calling 911 is what people do when they are in need of emergency care. However, with one small misjudgment, a Florida woman ended up losing her life while waiting for emergency responders to arrive at her house. The Boynton Beach commissioners have unanimously approved a $100,000 settlement in the wrongful death suit filed by the woman's husband.

The 81-year-old woman was home alone when she dropped a glass and cut her ankle very seriously. She dialed "0" instead of 911 and was sent to an operator who was contracted by Comcast. This is where the negligence started. The operator erroneously transferred the woman's call to Boynton Beach dispatchers.

Realizing they had made a mistake, the operators finally had Palm Beach County emergency services respond to the call. When paramedics eventually arrived at the woman's house, she was unable to answer the door. Believing they had the wrong address, the paramedics left without assisting the woman. Her husband found her dead 45 minutes later.

The tragedy of this story is that the woman did not have to die. She called for help, but because of negligence on several levels, she was not able to survive. Her husband is suing Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, the city of Boynton Beach, as well as Comcast and the contracted operator firm they hired who mishandled the emergency call.

So far, the city has approved the $100,000 settlement in the suit. County commissions are also said to be considering the settlement and will likely decide in the coming weeks. In other cases of negligence, the party at fault should be held accountable for any resulting damages.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Boynton commissioners OK $100,000 settlement in wrongful death case," Erika Pesantes, Feb. 7, 2012

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