Utah Suit Blames Crash Victim’s Death On Responders for Injecting Too Much Ketamine

The family of a Wyoming woman who died after a head-on collision in Utah, has filed suit against fire, EMS, life-flight and hospital agencies and 14 individual responders claiming her death was due to an injection of too much ketamine. Gwendolyn Doner, 19, of Casper, Wyoming, died in April of 2021.

Named in the suit are: Intermountain Health Care, Intermountain Medical Center, IHC Health Services, Inc., two IHC physicians, an IHC physician’s assistant, LifeFlight, a LifeFlight nurse, a LifeFlight medic, Murray City Fire Department, Murray City, two Murray City firefighter-paramedics, a Murray City Captain/EMT, Gold Cross Services, Inc., two Gold Cross Advanced EMTs, Unified Fire Authority, one UFA captain/paramedic, one UFA firefighter/paramedic, one UFA firefighter/EMT, the Utah Highway Patrol and one UHP trooper.

Oddly enough, the driver responsible for the crash, Justin Wayne Robertson, was not named as a defendant. Robertson, 36, was subsequently convicted of murder. He reportedly admitted to using methamphetamine minutes prior to the collision

The complaint is unusually verbose (pretentiously so) with excruciatingly detailed technical medical information that may be of interest to physicians and medics, but is largely unnecessary blah-blah blah for firefighters, attorneys, and firefighter-attorneys. Despite its pretentiousness, the complaint does include many pictures… LOL.

Quoting from the introduction section of the complaint:

  • This action arises out of medical services tortiously provided to 19-year-old Gwendolyn Doner in April 2021, resulting in her wrongful death.
  • This is a straightforward case.
  • After surviving a head-on vehicular collision with her brain unheard, Gwen went into respiratory arrest because EMS providers injected her with 500 milligrams of ketamine—over 16 times the maximum indicated dose.
  • Then, for 7-9 minutes, not one of dozens of EMS providers was able or prepared to provide Gwen BVM ventilation—causing Gwen fatal anoxic brain injury.
  • Gwen never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at IMC about 29 hours later.
  • At IMC, even after Gwen had extensor posturing in all limbs, providers concealed the overdose, the respiratory arrest, and the anoxic brain injury. Then, after internally confirming and documenting anoxic brain injury as the cause of Gwen’s death, IMC providers continued to conceal the injury. To this day, despite fiduciary and ethical duties requiring transparency, no Defendant has acknowledged the true cause of Gwen’s death—iatrogenic anoxic brain injury.
  • This is also a rare case.
  • While iatrogenic errors are all too common, rarely are they captured on video.
  • Here, Defendants’ cameras preserved the events leading to Gwen’s death:
    • preparing and handing off a syringe with 500 milligrams of ketamine;
    • injecting the medication into Gwen’s bloodstream;
    • Gwen immediately falling into silence and slipping into respiratory arrest; and then
    • a host of EMS providers fumbling about and slow-walking, unable and unprepared to ventilate Gwen while her brain died from anoxia.
  • Here, the cameras also caught Defendants recognizing and admitting the iatrogenic errors.

Here is a copy of the 174 page complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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