In Texas, a family in Snyder is suing the city and five police officers after the family called paramedics that Benny Bollinger was having a heart attack on December 6, 2009. The family alleges that police showed up instead and promptly stopped his daughter Debra Bollinger, who was performing CPR. They then allegedly prevented the wife Darlene Bollinger from resuming the CPR. Benny then died later at the hospital.
The lawsuit says that as soon as paramedics arrived, they told the family that CPR was necessary and took him to the hospital. He died at the hospital. The lawsuit alleges negligence in the training of officers by the city.
We saw a prior case where police have been sued for refusing CPR. In another case, family members alleged that a police chief refused to give CPR to a gay man and that police stopped a friend from administering CPR (something the Chief denies in the 2006 case). Others cases like this one alleged the denial of CPR as part of police abuse.
These cases are often difficult — particularly with sharply different accounts. However, I do not know the reason why a family member would be prevented from performing CPR unless the police thought she was harming her father. If she was trying to reventilate her father or keep oxygen flowing, it is hard to see the harm particularly if he was already in distress at the time of their arrival. Clearly, the stated need for CPR upon their arrivals works against the city. However, the fact that Benny was still alive at the hospital could be cited in support of the police and city. The defense could argue as a matter of factual causation that he died of a heart condition that would not have been helped by CPR and that indeed his heart gave out later — after CPR was being administered by paramedics.
I could not locate a copy of the complaint and an answer is not yet due. We will be following the case, which raises some interesting torts as well as policy questions.
Source: Reporter News
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