Las Vegas Fire Facing Two Federal Court Wrongful Death Suits Over EMS Response

Las Vegas Fire & Rescue is facing two federal lawsuits alleging the city’s EMS dispatch policy was responsible for the deaths of two victims in 2014.

The suits were brought on behalf of John Benjamin Kraai and Brandon Charles Pickford and allege substantially the same thing: the failure to dispatch American Medical Response (AMR) units in both instances led to their deaths. The attorney for both suits is a former city councilman, Matthew Callister. He filed the Kraai suit on July 15, 2015 on behalf of Marie Theresa Nolan, who is Kraai’s mother and is serving as his administratrix. Callister filed the Pickford suit on July 9, 2015 on behalf of Susan D’ Andrea, Pickford’s sister.

As alleged in the complaints:

On February 23, 2014, John Benjamin Kraai was involved in an altercation in Las Vegas, Nevada whereby the Kraai was shot in the torso by Defendant Fred Dein, the owner of Kraai’s employer, McNastys Auto & Cycle. The incident occurred within close proximity to an American Medical Response ambulance that was not dispatched to his aid in response to a 9-1-1 call for help. Instead, pursuant to Defendants’ newly-adopted policy, he was forced to wait twenty-6 six (26) critical, unnecessary, minutes for a Fire Department ambulance to arrive, leading to his death from otherwise treatable injuries.

On April 17, 2014, Brandon Charles Pickford sustained a stab-wound to his neck within close proximity to an American Medical Response ambulance that was not dispatched to his aid in response to a 9-1-1 call for help. Instead, pursuant to Defendants’ newly-adopted policy, he was forced to wait critical, unnecessary, minutes for a Fire Department ambulance to arrive, leading to his death from otherwise treatable injuries.

Both suits claim:

Defendants implemented a 9-1-1 dispatch policy for the City of Las Vegas whereby ambulances operated by private companies, including but not limited to American Medical Response, were prevented from responding to 9-1-1 calls for emergency medical services a measure calculated to increase City of Las Vegas revenues by automatically assigning all dispatch calls to Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. Privately operated ambulances, which had previously handled the majority of all such calls, would thenceforth receive 20 notification from 9-1-1 dispatchers manually, and only “if necessary.”

The suits allege negligence, wrongful death, and due process violations (deprivation of life without due process based upon “deliberate indifference”).

The Kraii/Nolan suit names the City of Las Vegas, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, Fire Chief William McDonald, City Manager Betsy Fretwell, Fred Dein, and McNasty’s Auto & Cycle.

The Pickford/D’Andrea suit names the City of Las Vegas, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, Fire Chief William McDonald, City Manager Betsy Fretwell.

Here is a copy of the Kraii/Nolan suit: Nolan v City of Las Vegas

Here is a copy of the Pickford/D’Andrea: D Andrea v City of Las Vegas

More on both suits

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Centurian

    There is much more to both of these cases than the plaintiffs have asserted. It’s hard to dispatch a unit if you don’t know it is there. In at least one of the cases, the patient would not have survived if it had taken place in the surgical suite. In one case LVFR had only a 3 minute response time. Staging for police clearance to enter the scenes also is involved due to the violent nature of the calls. This is what happens when you serve a city in which everyone walks around thinking that they are just a quarter and a handle pull from a million dollar jackpot. The cause of death in each case was the person with the weapon with probable contribution by the victim for getting into the situation. People get themselves into these situations, bad stuff happens and it is then seen as a failure that the City or someone else couldn’t unf–k the situation. So, if I jump out of an airplane, fail to open my chute, call for help on my cell, is the FD supposed to figure out how to break my fall? Ridiculous case that will fail on it’s lack of merit.

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