Memorial seeks summary judgment in case where 'resource hospital' is at issue

Amelia Flood Sep. 2, 2010, 4:10am


Memorial Hospital's motion for summary judgment in a 2008 wrongful death case is being opposed by plaintiffs who claim Memorial serves as a resource hospital for the Illinois Emergency Medical System, and is therefore responsible.

Plaintiffs Joseph and Kathryn Broussard are seeking at least $750,000 and other relief over the death of their son, C.B., who was delivered by caesaraen section following a March 2007 auto accident.

At issue in the case is whether Memorial, as resource hospital, is responsible for sending a pregnant trauma patient to a hospital without the capacity for handling obstetrics emergencies.

According to their original complaint, Kathryn Broussard was nine months pregnant when she was injured in an accident on the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge near East St. Louis.

A MedStar ambulance and its paramedics transported Kathryn Broussard and her daughter, Nina Broussard, to the closest trauma center, Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital.

Kathryn Broussard was eventually transferred to Barnes-Jewish Medical Center in St. Louis.

C.B. was delivered on March 2, 2007 following a drop in his heart rate and died the same day.

Memorial claims that because it was not involved in the treatment of C.B., it is not liable in his parents' suit, even though it was part of an emergency network.

The plaintiffs moved to strike Memorial's summary judgment move on Aug. 23.

On the same day, fellow defendant MedStar Ambulance Inc., the company that transported Kathryn Broussard from the accident scene, moved to settle.

Approval of that settlement is pending.

Other defendants in the case have been dropped or settled.

In their sixth amended complaint, the Broussards claim that Memorial Hospital, in its role as resource hospital, is responsible for educating emergency medical providers within its region and for certifying EMTs.

The Broussards claim that as part of its oversight of the EMT program, Memorial is responsible for monitoring both emergency and non-emergency transports.

They claim that Memorial knew that Kenneth Hall, where Kathryn Broussard was taken, did not have obstetrics services or the capacity to deal with an obstetric emergency like theirs.

The suit claims that despite that knowledge, the defendant chose to allow its ambulance to take Kathryn Broussard to a hospital that could not handle her situation.

The suit claims the defendant did not properly educate EMTs about the care needed for pregnant trauma cases, did not put into place protocol for the transport of such patients, did not notify the Illinois Department of Public Health about the lack of obstetric capabilities at Kenneth Hall and showed conscious disregard for Kathryn Broussard and her son.

In its memorandum in support of the summary judgment motion, Memorial argues that Kathryn Broussard's condition at the time she was placed in the ambulance did not indicate she or the baby was in distress.

The hospital claims that it was never involved with C.B.'s treatment.

It argues that Kenneth Hall was the closest facility and that due to the accident on the bridge, an ambulance could not have taken Broussard to a Missouri facility.

It claims Kathryn Broussard agreed her condition did not worsen while she was at Kenneth Hall.

Memorial claims that Kenneth Hall could have rejected taking Kathryn Broussard. Memorial claims Kenneth Hall could have directed the EMTs to take her to a different facility.

It also claims that EMT Angela Ashford, who was one of those transporting Kathryn Broussard, never contacted it to ask whether Broussard would be better off going to another hospital although she could have under the standard operating procedure.

It claims that Kenneth Hall had some obstetrics equipment and doctors on site who could handle pregnant trauma patients.

Memorial denies that it was responsible for Kenneth Hall's failure to submit its protocols to the state and that it does not train all of the EMTs within the service system.

Memorial argues the plantiffs have not shown how its conduct was willful and wanton and are trying to impose a greater duty on the hospital than that required by the law.

In their motion to strike the summary judgment plea, the Broussards allege that the motion could not be heard Aug. 23 as it was filed Aug. 17.

The Broussards also point out that the filing exceeds the page limit set by the court.

The case had been set for trial late last month.

However, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young granted a request by the plaintiffs to continue the trial date.

A new date has not yet been set.

The plaintiffs were also given 14 days to file their response to Memorial's summary judgment move.

Young set the motion for hearing Sept. 22.

Roger Denton and others represent the plaintiffs.

Donald Schoemaker represents the hospital.

Stephen Mudge represented MedStar.

The case is St. Clair case number 08-L-068.

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