Motor Vehicle / Wrongful Death
A 56-year-old who was confined to a wheelchair and had limited use of his hands and arms secondary to diabetes died from a fall in a handicap-equipped van used to transport patients, or “cabulance.” He was picked up for transportation to his dialysis treatment by a Pacific Cabulance driver. The driver, Kelly Fee, loaded the man and his wheelchair into the cabulance, but failed to secure the straps to hold his wheelchair in place. During the trip, the wheelchair tipped over and the man struck his head, suffering a subdural hematoma. At the kidney center, it was standard procedure to give a dose of heparin, an anticoagulant (blood thinner), during dialysis. Due to the head injury, bleeding in the brain occurred, aggravated by the anticoagulant that was needed for dialysis. He was taken to the hospital where diagnostic brain CT scans were completed and an extensive hemorrhage in his brain was illuminated, along with a cephalohematoma (collection of blood outside the skull; evidence of direct trauma to his head). There was also significant hydrocephalus (fluid/blood in the brain ventricles, which causes increased pressure that compromises brain tissue) and his neurological function and level of consciousness were deteriorating. The neurosurgeon discussed the grave prognosis to the man’s children and the decision was made to attempt a ventriculostomy (placement of a drain in the brain ventricles to remove fluid and relieve pressure inside the skull). The surgery was performed, but, the drainage catheter became less effective and despite a second brain surgery, the client died at 56 years of age due to the brain injury.
During pre-suit investigation, Perey Law Group lawyers discovered that the cabulance driver was a registered sex offender who was not allowed to drive vulnerable adults in a cabulance. They also discovered that the owner of the cabulance company requested that employees of the cabulance company lie and say that he (the owner) was the driver of the cabulance at the time of the fatal fall. Plaintiffs’ lawyers obtained audio tape of the 9-1-1 call and testimony from former employees of the cabulance company that proved that Kelly Fee, the registered sex offender, was driving at the time of the fall. The case was settled and the owner and driver were successfully prosecuted by the Snohomish County Prosecutor.