Lawsuit filed against Houston paramedics who refused emergency care to disabled teen
HOUSTON - A lawsuit has been filed against Houston paramedics who denied emergency medical treatment to a young boy with cerebral palsy two years ago.
Attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel James P. Roberts, Scott H. Palmer, and Breanta Boss of Scott H. Palmer, P.C., of Dallas, Texas, have reportedly filed a lawsuit on behalf of 14-year-old Jacah Jefferson who has cerebral palsy after paramedics wrongly declared him dead and denied him emergency medical treatment.
We spoke with Jefferson's grandmother, Stacy Williams, back in July 2021 following the tragic ordeal. "I really thought they were playing," Williams told us. "I mean even though it was serious I couldn’t believe what they were saying."
BACKGROUND STORY: 2 HFD paramedics suspended after mistakenly telling grandmother of a 14-year-old special needs boy he was dead
On Jan. 26, 2021, Williams called 911 seeking medical attention for Jefferson after he hadn’t urinated all day and had discolored lips and fingertips. The teen became a victim of shaken baby syndrome at 5-months-old and had a history of low heart rate and low body temperature.
The lawsuit states when Houston Fire Department paramedics Andrew Williams and Joe Spradlin arrived, they checked the teen's pulse and declared him "gone". They also told Williams, "it will take an act of God" to resuscitate him.
Williams pleaded with the paramedics to provide medical care, but the two paramedics did not administer CPR, chest compressions, or other emergency care.
"The vast majority of our employees approach every call with care and thoughtfulness," said Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena back in 2021. "It didn’t occur in this situation and we’re going to correct that."
Jefferson was eventually hospitalized for more than a month and came out with even more medical needs than before.
"This case is outrageous and heartbreaking. Paramedics are first responders with a duty to try to preserve life, and instead, these men refused to do their fundamental job, denying life-saving medical care," Crump said. "Their heartless conduct leaves a devoted grandmother with an even heavier burden of care."
The suit also said after the teen vomited and Williams attempted to pick him up to take him to the hospital herself did the two ask if she wanted them to perform CPR. By the time this happened, a second paramedic unit arrived, administered CPR, and transported him to the hospital, where he was resuscitated.
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The original paramedics, Andrew Williams and Spradlin, allegedly failed to recognize the 14-year-old at the time was alive and failed to provide emergency care despite clear signs of life, according to the lawsuit. It adds on how the paramedics delayed his transportation by 24 minutes, causing brain damage because of the extended period without oxygen.
Jefferson is reportedly not as responsive since the incident. He is said to rock back and forth, no longer eats regularly and needs to be fed through a tube. Before then, he ate and took his medicine by mouth and only needed a tube for liquids.
In the lawsuit, it cites violations of the teen's rights and says, "As a result of Defendants Andrew Williams and Joe Spradlin’s deliberate decision to not administer life-saving measures such as CPR and chest compressions (the teen) suffered brain damage due to the extended period of lack of oxygen."
Andrew Williams and Spradlin were suspended for seven days by HFD and
As a result of their inaction, Andrew Williams and Joe Spradlin were suspended for seven days by the Houston Fire Department. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston division.