LAFD Sued Over Stretcher Mishap

A woman who claims she lost her unborn child while being transported on a stretcher by a Los Angeles City Fire Department ambulance crew has filed suit against the LAFD, the involved personnel and the property owners where the incident took place.

Clara Grajeda filed suit last week against the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles City Fire Department; two EMS personnel, Frank Gomez and Roman De La Torre; and the owner of the property where the incident occurred, Maria Enriquez. Grejeda was joined in the suit by her husband, Jesus Rangel.

The suit claims that while being transported on a stretcher, Grajeda fell about 9 inches resulting in abdominal injuries that eventually led to the death of her unborn child.

According to the complaint:

  • On March 3, 2017, Clara Grajeda, 34 years old, and her spouse, Jesus Rangel, were guests at a house located at 1449 E. 54th St., Los Angeles, CA 90011.
  • At approximately 2:00 p.m., Ms. Grajeda began experiencing pulsating contractions, as if entering labor. A call was placed to 9-1-1, and the Los Angeles Fire Department Rescue Ambulance 21 (“RA-21 “) was dispatched to provide transport to the hospital.
  • Upon arriving at the residence where Ms. Grajeda was present, the RA-21 personnel, including but not limited to Defendants Frank Gomez and Roman De La Torre (hereinafter, “RA-21 personnel”) observed Ms. Grajeda sitting in a tripod position inside of the house.
  • Shortly after arriving, the RA-21 personnel placed Ms. Grajeda on a stretcher and began escorting her out of the residence.
  • Located approximately four to five feet away from the front door of the residence was a single step, about eight to nine inches in height.
  • As the RA-21 personnel escorted Ms. Grajeda out of the residence, they neither secured Ms. Grajeda nor the stretcher such that, as they were making their way over the step, the stretcher, along with Ms. Grajeda, fell the full depth of the step and violently, and loudly, made contact with the ground, causing injury to Ms. Grajeda as well as injury and ultimately death to her unborn child.
  • Grajeda immediately experienced an intense pain in her abdominal area.
  • The RA-21 personnel proceeded to place Ms. Grajeda in the ambulance for approximately 10 minutes before beginning transportation to Martin Luther King Jr. Community hospital.
  • By failing to secure Ms. Grajeda and/or the stretcher, and by failing· to make safe Ms. Grajeda’s transportation, e.g. failing to account for the step in the front entrance to the residence, the RA-21 personnel, city employees, were not only negligent, they acted with gross negligence; that is, the lack of any care or an extreme departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation to prevent harm to oneself or to others.
  • The RA-21 personnel acted with a complete disregard for the safety, lives, and well-being of Ms. Grajeda and/or her unborn child, breaching their duties to the Ms. Grajeda and/or her unborn child in every regard.
  • Furthermore, after causing the initial injury to Ms. Grajeda and her unborn child, the RA-21 personnel did not respond for an elongated period of time. In all these respects, the RA-21 personnel breached their duty of care owed to Ms. Grajeda.
  • As a direct and proximate result of the negligence, including gross negligence of the RA-21 personnel, Clara Grajeda suffered a uterine rupture causing the unborn child to die, the cause of which was not discovered until months later.

The suit alleges negligence, negligent infection of emotional distress, loss of consortium and against Enriquez, premises liability.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Grajeda v Los Angeles County

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.
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