Chicago Contemplates $5 Million Settlement in Mistaken DOA Suit

The City of Chicago is poised to settle a wrongful death suit involving a mistaken DOA for $5 million. The lawsuit involves the death of Whitfield Marshall in 2019

On February 20, 2019 Chicago Fire Department EMS responded to a well-being check for Marshall. EMS personnel concluded Marshall, 64, was deceased. The Chicago Sun Times quoted from the complaint, stating that:

  • [Marshall was found] “laying face down on the floor of his apartment.”
  • Believing he was ‘dead on arrival’ they left the Marshall residence [without exercising the] knowledge, skill and care used by reasonably careful EMTs in the same or similar circumstances.”
  • [EMS personnel failed to] “obtain vital signs from Marshall, including pulse and respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation.”

According to the plaintiffs’s attorney (the Leonard Law Group) “Records show that an EMS crew found Marshall ‘face down hard, cold, with blood pooling on his whole front side.’ They proclaimed him DOA – Dead on Arrival – without performing any medical exams or treatment procedures.”

Marshall was found alive and moving four hours later by his grandson, Gabray Carter. Another ambulance was dispatched and he was transported to the hospital. He apparently coded during the transport and suffered brain damage. He was taken off life support three days later.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, one of the medics was terminated and the other is “no longer on the job.” The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by Carter and Marshall’s estate. A copy of the complaint is not available on Lexis. I reached out to the plaintiffs’ attorney and will post a copy here is one is provided.

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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