Niagara Gazette

Courts

July 8, 2013

Lockport lawmaker's sister suing city over mother's death

LOCKPORT — An alderman's sister has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming a mishandled 911 call led to their mother's death last year.

Beth A. Arajs, executor of the estate of Jeanette A. Lombardi, filed the suit in state Supreme Court last week alleging procedural lapses by the Lockport Fire Department, which fields all ambulance calls in the city, contributed to Lombardi's death.

Jeanette Lombardi, 75, was the mother of 1st Ward Alderman John Lombardi III. She died Sept. 20, at her West Avenue home, after experiencing sudden physical distress. Her husband summoned an ambulance for her at 11:30 a.m. and by the time a paramedic crew arrived at 11:43 a.m. — from Wrights Corners Volunteer Fire Company, not the LFD — she had died.

Autopsy results indicate the cause of Lombardi's death was anaphylactic shock, an allergic reaction to a substance such as insect venom, medication or food, and according to Arajs' attorney, Gregory Stamm, "a quick dose of epinephrine" could have saved her life.

Lombardi's estate is suing the city because it failed to deliver that quick response, Stamm said Monday.

"It's unacceptable to leave her there 13 minutes without a response ... when the fire company is one minute away from her house," he said.

Why a volunteer crew ended up taking the Lombardi ambulance call, when the LFD has two ambulances and nine firefighters/paramedics on duty at all times, was the subject of an investigation by Fire Chief Thomas Passuite.

When city dispatch received the ambulance call, both of the LFD's ambulances reportedly were in use, one on an out-of-town transport and the other in a training exercise at VanDeMark Chemical.

At the time, county call records show, a crew from Wrights Corners company was closing out a call at Eastern Niagara Hospital-Lockport, so county dispatch sent it to the Lombardi home.

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