Family will have opportunity to prove that 3 hour delay in 911 response "caused" death
The family of Sherrill Turner sued Wayne County 911 dispatch services and the 911 operator for gross negligence, after the operator delayed for several hours in sending a responder to investigate Turner's health. Turner's son, Robert, had dialed 911 before 6 p.m., when he found his mother unconscious. The operator treated his call as a child's prank and failed to send responders. Robert called again at almost 9 p.m., and was chastised and told to put his unconscious mother on the phone. The operator finally sent a police officer, rather than medical responders, to the home at about 9:30. The officer immediately summoned EMTs, who declared Sherrill dead at 9:59. The defendants sought dismissal of the case, arguing that regardless of their negligence, they were not "the" cause of Sherill's death.The trial court rejected the defendants motion for summary disposition and they appealed. The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court's holding that under the facts as known, a reasonable jury may conclude that the 3 + hour delay in responding to Sherill's unconscious state was the primary cause of her death. Given that her body was still warm when EMTs arrived, it is possible that the family can prove that Sherill's medical incident was "probably" survivable with prompt, appropriate attention.