Case Against Lazy EMT Workers Dismissed On Technicality

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EMTs Pregnant Woman
AP
The story of the Brooklyn Au Bon Pain worker who died of an asthma attack took an outrage-provoking turn when a judge, who was handling a lawsuit filed by the worker's family, threw the suit out on a technicality due to the fact that the unconscious woman didn't personally request medical attention.

The suit, which stems from worker Eutisha Rennix's death in 2009, found the family pressing charges against the two city medics who couldn't be bothered to cut their lunch break short when Rennix, who was then six months pregnant, began to have difficulty breathing.

EMS dispatchers Melisa Jackson and Jason Green, who happened to be having lunch at the eatery, were notified by co-workers of Rennix's worsening condition. But after Jackson called 911, the two medics left without checking on Rennix, who'd been moved to a back room.

The worker was pronounced dead at the emergency room; her baby boy died two hours later after being delivered by C-section.

As the New York Daily News reported, Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest called the behavior of the medics "egregious," but tossed the suit filed by Rennix's family because of a state law saying that gross negligence can only be claimed if a "special duty" is owed to a stricken person. This means that the victim or an immediate family member must make the request for help themselves.

EMTs Pregnant Woman
APThe family of Eutisha Rennix

"I feel like the city treated my daughter in the same heartless and inhuman way that [the medics] did," the worker's mother, Cynthia Rennix, told the Daily News. "How could my daughter have called 911 if she was unconscious? It's crazy. And it's unfair."

While Green was murdered a year after the woman's death, an FDNY spokesman said that Jackson still faces internal discipline for not coming to Rennix's aid.

Sanford Rubenstein, who served as Cynthia Rennix's attorney, spoke out against the technicality that caused the case to be dismissed. "This technicality, which clearly is not in the interest of New Yorkers, particularly those whose wrongful death might have been prevented, must be addressed by either the appellate courts or the governor and the state Legislature," he told the Daily News.

Rennix's isn't the first case to be thrown out on this technicality. Last year, the city dismissed a suit filed by the family of Ariel Russo, a four-year-old who was killed by an unlicensed driver, because neither the child nor her grandmother, who was also injured in the accident, made the 911 call personally.

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