Texas Suit Alleges Negligence and Wrongful Death

The widow of a Texas man who died after a stretcher-related injury in 2019 has filed suit against a fire department, six firefighter-EMTs, a local hospital and an ER doctor. Jacqueline Veals filed suit yesterday in Dallas County District Court naming the City of Lancaster, the Lancaster Fire Department, the six firefighter-EMTs, Baylor Scott & White Health, Baylor Scott & White Health, LLC, Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, and Cara Brianne Norvell, D.O. as defendants.

Veals’ husband, Fred Douglas Veals, Jr., died after he partially-fell off a stretcher while being carried down concrete steps. The suit was filed in Jacqueline’s capacity as the personal representative of his estate, and individually as his widow. As explained in the complaint:

  • On or about November 28, 2019, Decedent Plaintiff Fred Douglas Veals, Jr., was experiencing difficulty breathing and his spouse, Plaintiff Jacqueline Veals, called the City of Lancaster to request an ambulance service.
  • At approximately 00:37:06 a.m. the City of Lancaster emergency medical services personal arrived at Plaintiff’s home.
  • At approximately 00:57:32 a.m. the emergency personnel consisting of Defendants Danny Burton EMT, James Shelton EMT, Cade Whitson EMT, Reggie Stems EMT, Kristopher Lewis EMT, and/or Gerardo Cervantes EMT, after placing Mr. Veals on the stretcher, started walking toward the emergency vehicle.
  • As the emergency personnel carried Mr. Veals down some concrete steps, because Mr. Veals’ body was not properly secured on the stretcher, Mr. Veals’ upper body fell on the concrete steps causing a laceration to the right side of Mr. Veals’ head and the emergency personnel had to apply bandages to try to control the bleeding.
  • Mr. Veals was transported to Baylor University Medical Center where he was admitted.
  • During this hospital admission, Defendant Cara Brianne Norvell, D.O. applied staples to Mr. Veals’ head due to an assessed 4cm linear scalp laceration.
  • Dr. Norvell was the Attending emergency physician at Baylor University Medical Center.
  • Following additional care at Baylor University Medical Center, Mr. Veals died on December 3, 2019.
  • The negligence of Defendants City of Lancaster, City of Lancaster Fire Department, [the six firefighter-EMTs], in their failure to properly secure the Fred Douglas Veals, Jr. and dropping him on his head, was a proximate cause of his injuries, damages, and resulting death.

Here is the copy of the complaint:

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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