Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lawsuit filed over child's injury from 911 failures in icy pond accident

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 3:08 PM

PLAINTIFFS: Dayong Yang, with son Le, has sued over his sons injuries as a result of slow emergency response to car crash.
  • PLAINTIFFS: Dayong Yang, with son Le, has sued over his son's injuries as a result of slow emergency response to car crash.
Dayong Yang has sued the city of Little Rock and various police and fire employees over handling of the accident in which his wife, Jinglei Yi, died and his son Le Yang, 5, was left permanently injured after his wife's car slid into an icy pond in west Little Rock.

The 911 dispatcher for Little Rock, Candace Middleton, called MEMS, but failed to call rescue units, after the accident was reported by Yi on her cell phone. The long delay in arrival of a water rescue team from the Fire Department meant prolonged exposure to cold water, which led to Yi's death and severe neurological damage to the child, for whom the suit is filed.

The lawsuit restates and expands on the extensive record of poor job performance by Middleton that ultimately led to her firing from a similar job earlier in Benton — 15 written complaints by co-employees, one situation
report by a supervisor, two verbal warnings from a supervisor, and three written warnings from
supervisors for substandard work. The city of Little Rock was aware of this record, but hired her anyway.

The lawsuit, filed by Carter Stein of the McMath Woods Law Firm, said the city of Little Rock still had not provided full details on Middleton's job performance for the city. She resigned from the job before completion of the investigation of the case.

The lawsuit includes a detailed and horrifying account of the passage of agonizing minutes as the water rose in the car. Neither Yi nor the child could swim and the child was growing increasingly distraught, based on the account from tapes of the calls. It details, too, the inability of passersby and Yang to attempt a rescue before the water rescue team arrived because they were prevented from doing so, in one case by firefighters. The firefighters were following custom and rule of Little Rock emergency responders that only trained teams were supposed to attempt such rescues.

Yi made her first 911 call at 7:55 a.m. It went to a county dispatcher who transferred the call to Middleton. MEMS was notified quickly, but didn't reach the scene until 8:20 a.m. and that's when the failure to have police and fire on the scene was noticed. A water rescue team didn't arrive until 8:40 a.m. By then Dayong had arrived from his job as a nurse at Baptist Hospital. Yi was pulled out of the water at 8:48 a.m. The child was found and put in an ambulance for transport at 9:05 a.m.

The suit alleges negligence in everything from the hiring of Middleton, to her dispatch work to on-scene actions that day.

The case faces a significant legal hurdle. The defendants, all agents of the city, typically enjoy immunity from lawsuit under the law. The suit, for one, makes a civil rights claim, that agents acting under color of law deprived Le of his liberty and thus violated his civil rights. But additionally, the suit argues that the city is responsible for its individual employees' actions. And it contends that the statute holding the city immune from suit is unconstitutional.

Here's the argument:

Ark. Constitution Article 2 § 13 states: “Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs he may receive in his person, . . .; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without purchase; completely, and without denial; promptly and without delay; conformably to the laws.”

Ark. Constitution Article 5 § 32 provides: “ . . . no law shall be enacted limiting the amount to be recovered for . . . injuries to persons . . .,”

Ark. Constitution Amendment 80 § 3 provides: “The Supreme Court shall prescribe the rules of pleading, practice & procedure for all courts; provided these rules shall not abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive right and shall preserve the right of trial by jury as declared in this Constitution.

To the extent Le has suffered a harm for which Ark. Code Ann. § 21-9-301 prevents a remedy, the aforementioned statue is an unconstitutional violation of Ark. Constitution Article 2

Such a finding would be ground-breaking and reverse years of practice. As it stands, the state Claims Commission serves as an opportunity for people harmed by the state to seek compensation for their injuries given the state's immunity. But there is no such alternative for those damaged by cities, thus there could be a wrong without a remedy, which the lawyers argue is unconstitutional. The facts in this case are undeniably compelling. The 13-minute tape of the MEMS conversation with Yi would be particularly powerful if the suit leads to the requested jury trial.

The suit asks for actual and punitive damages. Here's the full suit.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Stephens film series features heroes of capitalism

    Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on an announcement today that Warren Stephens, the CEO of Stephens Inc. (and big GOP contributor we mentioned earlier today), has produced a film series and related media, "This is Capitalism."
    • May 23, 2017
  • Government: More indictments possible in legislative kickback case

    The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that federal Judge Timothy Brooks of Fayetteville has delayed the bribery trial of former Sen. Jon Woods  "in part because the prosecutor said the investigation is continuing and further indictments are expected."
    • May 23, 2017
  • Making America Great Again in Shanghai

    Viral video of the day. Old white man wearing a Make America Great Again cap tries to claim seats to which he isn't entitled on flight from Shanghai to Newark.
    • May 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Ex-Hog Darrell Walker spotlighted for collection of work by black artists

    Former Razorback basketball player Darrell Walker and his art collection get a mention in today's New York Times in an article about the rising profiles and prices of black artists.
    • Nov 29, 2015
  • Two plead in fraud of sheriff's office

    A former employee of the Pulaski County sheriff and a North Little Rock woman who sold goods to the sheriff's office have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to steal from the sheriff's office, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
    • May 16, 2017
  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Most Viewed

  • Trump's budget could hit Arkansas hard

    If Donald Trump succeeds in cutting "entitlements" by $1.7 trillion, the impact will be felt particularly in poor states. In other words, Arkansas.
  • Freeway wreckage, dramatically illustrated

    An Oklahoma researcher has compiled a striking photographic archive that illustrates the damage done to major cities when freeways are cut through their hearts. A lesson for Little Rock, if anyone would pay attention.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation