A New York Judge threw out the civil lawsuit against FDNY Dispatcher Melissa Jackson stemming from the death of Eutisha Rennix. Here’s a quick timeline/refresher regarding the case:
- In December of 2009 Eutisha Rennix suffered an asthma attack in the Metrotech Center‘s Au Bon Pain shop. Jackson and then boyfriend Jason Greene were getting coffee in the store while in FDNY uniform during a break in their shifts as dispatchers. They were asked by Rennix’s co-workers if they could check on her and help in anyway. The pair refused to go to Rennix‘s side, but Jackson did call the communications center’s direct line and requested an ambulance. Rennix died later on at the hospital
- In July of 2010 Jason Greene was shot and killed outside of a Manhattan nightclub in a reportedly unrelated incident
- In October of 2010 Melissa Jackson was charged with Official Misconduct
- In December of 2010 Melissa Jackson leveled allegations against another FDNY member that she accused of being present at the time, but no other charges were brought forth
- In June of 2013, on the eve of the criminal trial, FDNY Chief of EMS Abdou Nahmod asked that the charges be dropped. He cited the fact that Jackson was not assigned to an ambulance exempts her from the FDNY EMS GOP… or at least the whole part about having a duty to act when requested on page 2
The civil lawsuit being thrown out of court effectively ends the saga of Eutisha Rennix, the expectant mother who perished from an asthma attack. The judge, while calling Jackson’s actions “egregious“, used the wording of the law regarding the definition of “gross negligence” as the reason to throw the case out. Apparently had Rennix or a family member asked, the judge would have let it proceed… or maybe they would have found some other reason to hurl it from the courts much like Nahmod found reason to request the charges dropped that ultimately saved the city from the civil suit. Melissa Jackson, having now cleared the last hurdle, can continue working for FDNY and move on with her life.
Honestly, it’s an interesting outcome. Considering the issue that Washington DC FEMS had with firefighters not helping Cecil Mills (who also perished earlier this year), it makes you wonder what will be the outcome there? More importantly the question that should be raised is how was Au Bon Pain in 2009 any different than across the street from DC Engine 26 in 2014?
The sad part (or scary depending on how you want to look at it) is that truthfully there isn’t that much difference at all.
Art Hsieh has a great editorial at EMS1.com inspired by this very story called “Off-duty EMS responses is a choice of conscious and expectation“. I encourage you to read it and, more importantly, remember that we need to demonstrate value to our community on a daily basis. Meeting their expectations is only one part of what we need to do, but it is a vital part.