Granite City girl's family files wrongful death suit

By Steve Gonzalez | Nov 9, 2006

Madison Falgout

Madison Falgout

The estate of a disabled Granite City girl who died from asphyxiation on Aug. 25, 2005, filed a wrongful death suit against Maxim Healthcare Services and a nurse in Madison County Circuit Court Nov. 3.

According to the complaint, Madison Falgout was fitted with a tracheostomy tube to assist her in breathing.

Maxim Healthcare Services nurse Kristina Helms was allegedly attempting to single-handedly change Madison's tube when she allegedly unfastened the tracheotomy tube ties on Aug. 26, 2005.

"After unfastening the tracheotomy tube ties, defendant turned away from Madison at which time Madison coughed and the tracheostomy tube became dislodged from Madison's windpipe," the complaint states.

Madison's estate claims Helms did not have the appropriate supplies at hand in case the tube accidentally dislodged.

The estate claims Helms then attempted to reinstall the tube without first inserting an obturator into the tracheostomy tube.

"Defendant used excessive force in attempting to reinstall the tracheostomy tube causing the stoma to bleed and swell thereby blocking Madison's windpipe and cutting off her air supply," the complaint states.

The estate also claims Helms waited over 10 minutes to call 911.

According to the complaint, Helms committed professional negligence by:

  • attempting to change the tracheostomy tube ties alone;

  • negligently turned away from Madison after the tube ties were unfastened;

  • failed to have the appropriate supplies at hand in case the tune became dislodged;

  • attempting to reinsert the tube causing trauma to the stoma; and

  • failing to contact emergency services in a timely manner.

    The estate claims Madison experienced great pain and suffering prior to her death and also claims the surviving family has been deprived of Madison's continued love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and protection.

    Represented by Martin Mengarelli of Granite City, Madison's estate is seeking damages in excess of $200,000, plus all costs of the suit.

    According to details contained in the suit, Madison Falgout was born healthy on Father's Day 1999. At age 9 weeks, while her mother was at work, Madison was left in the care of her father. Because she was crying, her father violently shook her and slammed her into her crib. He left her there, with the door closed, for five hours.

    Madison was taken to a local hospital and placed on life support. From there she was transported by helicopter to a larger children's hospital in St. Louis.

    Still on life support, it was learned her condition was caused by trauma. Madison's father gave an excuse that an ashtray had been knocked off a coffee table and hit Madison in the head. Yet, there was not a single mark on her- no bruises, no red marks. Madison was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for a total of 13 days.

    Madison had a massive brain injury, was blind, paralyzed from the waist down. She had 15-25 seizures a day when she was first injured. She suffered from cerebral palsy and severe scoliosis of her spine.

    Because she was so young when she had to be put on life support, she lost the instinct that babies have to suck. Therefore, when she was taken off life support, she had "forgotten" how to take a bottle.

    The doctors were very grim about Madison's prognosis. Most of the doctors did not believe she would survive.

    On the 13th day at the hospital, she was taken off life support with the understanding that if she did not breathe on her own, she would be put back on. To the doctor's amazement, Madison did breathe, and did not need to be on life support again for almost three years.

    Her father is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

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