Byline: Thomas Franz
A Michigan Court of Appeals panel ruled in favor of a plaintiff in a case stemming from the death of a man who was injured while being taken from his assisted living facility on a stretcher to an ambulance parked in front of the facility.
In Estate of Ralph Brown v. Wolan and Vescio (MiLW No. 08-101010, 10 pages), the panel affirmed an Oakland County Circuit Court ruling which denied a motion for summary disposition based on a governmental immunity argument.
Judges Cynthia Diane Stephens and Michael J. Riordan affirmed the ruling in an unpublished opinion while Chief Judge Christopher M. Murray dissented.
On Aug. 29, 2015, defendants Sean Wolan and Jeffrey Vescio were dispatched to an assisted living facility to transport Robert Brown to Botsford Hospital.
Brown was a paraplegic from a prior injury and needed to go to the hospital because of blood in his urine.
Wolan was the lead paramedic and Vescio was the driver. The COA panel wrote that Vescio used a stretcher on wheels to move Brown from the facility to the ambulance.
While moving toward the ambulance outside, Vescio used one hand to pull the stretcher at the end where Brown's feet were. Vescio used his other hand to carry a bag of medical supplies.
During this time, Wolan stayed inside the facility to fill out paperwork. Vescio pulled the stretcher down a ramp at the exit of the facility and onto a stamped concrete walkway, which had a 90-degree turn.
As Vescio pulled the stretcher through the turn, one of the stretcher's rear wheels went off the walkway and onto the grass, which was about two inches lower than the walkway.
The court wrote that the stretcher tipped downward as Vescio dropped his bag and used his body and arms to prevent the stretcher from falling to the ground. At this point, Wolan came outside to assist Vescio in getting the stretcher back upright on the walkway.
Vescio testified that he didn't believe Brown could have been injured because neither his body nor the stretcher hit the ground. Vescio testified that Brown didn't report any pain.
Wolan testified that he palpated Brown's neck before the stretcher was taken into the ambulance. Neither Vescio's nor Wolan's examinations of Brown's neck were documented in Brown's Patient Care Record. Wolan also didn't document the tipping incident, and neither defendant reported the tipping to hospital staff, which later learned of the incident from an employee at the assisted living facility...