Kathleen Thomas: Lawsuit over two-hour long ambulance wait tossed out of court
Elizabeth Landers, CNN
10:03 AM, Sep 8, 2013
NEW YORK (CNN) -- According to her sister, Kathleen Thomas slipped on ice and snow during a major blizzard in December 2010, suffered a heart attack and died while waiting for an ambulance that arrived two hours later.
The sibling brought a lawsuit against New York City, but it has been dismissed, apparently on a technicality.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Margaret A. Chan recently ruled that the city could be sued in this case only if the injured person or an immediate family member made the 911 call.
Thomas, 51, allegedly was unconscious. The call was made by her boyfriend, Alan Taylor.
Sandra S. Pascal, Thomas' sister, filed a lawsuit, stating that the "city was negligent in failing to properly evaluate and respond to the blizzard and did not timely clear the roadways of ice and snow, thus, delaying emergency medical aid."
But Chan tossed the lawsuit, citing precedent, according to a court document released Friday. The judge said the boyfriend did not have "special relationship" standing because he was not an immediately family member.
Pascal did not learn about her sister's heart attack until 4:45 a.m., after the ambulance finally arrived, the judge wrote, rejecting Pascal's claim that Taylor was eligible to act on her behalf.
Thomas' family and boyfriend argued that none of this should matter in the event of an emergency.
Pascal, pastor for Hope Outreach, told CNN on Saturday she was disappointed. "We're very upset of course and dissatisfied. I'm devastated."
Pascal and her lawyers will continue to pursue the matter in court, she stated.
The city law office did not immediately respond to CNN requests for comment.
The 2010 blizzard produced blinding snow and wreaked havoc up the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maine. More than 4,155 flights were canceled, up to 32 inches of snow piled up in spots and wind gusts blew as strong as 80 mph.