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City to pay $5.18 million in wrongful death of 15-year-old

A city 250 miles southeast of La Crosse has been ordered to pay $5.18 million to the estate of a 15-year-old boy in a wrongful death lawsuit.

A week ago, the jury found the city of Park Ridge, Illinois, liable in the drug overdose death of the teen on Oct. 31, 2004.

Park Ridge paramedics were accused of failing to properly evaluate the boy and provide proper medical care when they were called after he had taken a drug overdose.

Paramedics were called to the boy's father's home initially, but left soon after. When they were called back eight hours later, the boy was unconscious. He died a short while later at a hospital.

On the initial call, "they were in the room for 10 seconds," the plaintiff's attorney said of the paramedics. "Eight hours later, they are called back on another 911 call and the child is dead. Then they knew they had screwed up."

The attorney for the city said the paramedics were turned away by both the boy and his father on the initial call.

However, the lawyer for the boy's estate said the paramedics failed in their duties on that call.

They merely asked if the boy was OK, as they stood seven feet away from him, the plaintiffs say. And the paramedics failed to act upon or learn information that the father had performed CPR on his son before they arrived.

Even the attorney for the city acknowledged that neither the boy or father ever signed a medical care release form.

The lawsuit also alleges that the paramedics failed to ask about the boy's medical record, including his history of drug abuse.

The case has traveled a long road to the verdict.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in October of 2005, but dismissed by the Cook County Circuit Court. The dismissal was appealed. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court sent the lawsuit back to the Circuit Court where a three-week trial recently concluded.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times: "City of Park Ridge found liable in boy's death, ordered to pay $5M," Jennifer Johnson, March 13, 2012

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