Court again forced to reinstate a negligence claim against negligent ambulance driver
Michael Gerardi died after suffering a severe head injury in an intersection collision with an ambulance. The ambulance was transporting a stable patient from one hospital to another for stroke care. The ambulance driver approached the intersection of M-59 and Eager road above the posted speed limit, at 70 miles per hour, but with flashing lights and no siren. Gerardi attempted to complete a left turn in front of the ambulance--either because he thought he was exposed in the intersection, or because he thought he needed to complete his maneuver and could do so safely-but a collision occurred.
The investigating police placed all of the blame on Gerardi, and in reliance on that investigation, the trial judge dismissed his family's wrongful death claim, despite testimony from two experts confirming the ambulance driver's failure to exercise due care. The Court of Appeals reiterated the statutory language allowing emergency drivers to violate normal traffic and speed laws only if exercising reasonable care for the safety of the public, and reinstated the Gerardi family's case. The Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that prior decisions of the Supreme Court repudiated the summary disposition of a negligence claim against an ambulance driver where there was evidence of negligent operation. In short, lights and or siren are not a license to endanger.