Detroit faces wrongful death suit: 'These paramedics left this man to die'

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Representatives of a man who died last year have filed a lawsuit against the city and two emergency technicians accused of negligence that caused his death.

The suit, filed Friday in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks more than $1 million in damages for the May 5, 2018, death of Maurice Freeman, who was on life support for weeks after his roommate dialed 911 to report Freeman couldn't breathe.

Myra Buffington, listed as the representative of Freeman's estate, is the plaintiff in the lawsuit, which names the city and Detroit emergency medical technicians Alic Lane and Ryan Cook as defendants.

City officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday from the attorney representing the city, Lane and Cook.

Vince Colella, attorney for the plaintiff, said: "The fact is, these paramedics left this man to die ... and there's no excuse for it."

According to the lawsuit, Freeman's roommate Steven Colvin called 911 at 9:15 p.m. on April 15, 2018, to report Freeman was having trouble breathing, and that his oxygen tank wasn't working because there was a power outage.

"During this call, Colvin stated that Freeman ... was 'in and out' of consciousness and 'in trouble,'" the suit said.

Detroit Fire Department EMTs Lane and Cook responded to the 911 call. The lawsuit claims they "failed to perform any medical assessment on Freeman upon arrival, failed to calculate whether his supplemental oxygen was sufficient, and refused to transport him to the hospital."

After the pair left, Freeman's breathing problems resurfaced, the lawsuit said. "Approximately four hours later, Colvin made a second 911 call ... during this call, Colvin is heard stating 'he is dying,' referring to his roommate Freeman."

Lane and Cook again responded to the run, and the lawsuit claimed they "entered the home without equipment, failed to provide oxygen immediately, or to begin loading him into the ambulance."

Colella told The Detroit News: "The roommate had to carry (Freeman) to the doorway, where he collapsed. Because of the lack of oxygen to his brain, he became brain dead."

Freeman was hospitalized for 21 days until he was taken off life support, the suit said.

"It was a horrible way to die," Colella said. "He choked to death for lack of oxygen."

The lawsuit claim's Freeman's family have "suffered permanent damages, including ... grief, anguish, emotional distress, medical and burial costs, loss of society and companionship, and other damages."

A status conference on the case is scheduled for Jan. 22 before Judge David Allen.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN