Here’s today’s burning question: Can my fire department be sued if a driver smashes into a parked ambulance belonging to another fire department? Apparently so if you are in New York!!!
A New York volunteer fire company and a village are being sued for wrongful death over a 2010 crash that did not even involve one of its vehicles. On Tuesday, Carol A. Durham filed a $3 million lawsuit against the Village of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Volunteer Fire Department Inc., and the driver of a PVFD ambulance, Cole Q. Jenne, claiming their negligence contributed to an April 24, 2010 accident that injured Durham and killed her 88 year old mother, Marjorie M. Swem.
The accident occurred on Rt. 11 as Jenne was transporting a patient in a Philadelphia Fire Department ambulance. A decision was made to transfer the patient to an ambulance from Fort Drum, and as the Fort Drum ambulance approached from the north Jenne stopped his ambulance by the side of the road headed south.
The suit claims that the Fort Drum ambulance, operated by Jorge A. Ponce, pulled to the side of the road facing north and without warning made a U-turn into the path of Durham’s vehicle causing the collusion. Neither Ponce nor the US Government (who owns the Fort Drum ambulance) were named as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that the Philadelphia VFD was negligent in the hiring, training and retention of Jenne, and that Jenne was negligent by:
- failing to properly display emergency lights,
- ensuring a reasonably safe location in which to meet up with the Fort Drum ambulance, and
- blocking the road in such a way that Durham could not avoid the collision.
The lawyer for the Village, Steven C. Shahan, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the defendants, claiming that if anyone was negligent it was the Fort Drum ambulance. A police investigation into the accident determined that the ambulance had its lights and sirens on and did not find the driver at fault. The Village plans to ask for a dismissal of the case and alleges that Durham’s injuries were the result of her not wearing a seat belt.