Family of man who died after EMS incident receives settlement

Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 12:29am

The family of Frederico Becerra will receive a $250,000 payout from Metro government, after Council authorized the department of law to settle a lawsuit brought by the deceased man’s sister.

Becerra, who was epileptic, died in 2004 after a 911 call brought Metro Fire Department employees to his Nashville residence. There are conflicting reports of what exactly transpired next, but Metro emergency responders claim Becerra became combative.

A neighbor who witnessed the incident said Becerra told Emergency Medical Technicians simply to leave him alone.

The six EMTs reportedly decided to restrain Becerra so they could check his vital signs. While they attempted to do so, Becerra stopped breathing and could not be resuscitated.

His sister, Stephanie Peete, filed suit against Metro claiming the EMTs applied weight to Becerra’s head, back, neck, shoulders, torso and legs. The suit claims that Becerra, 38, never posed a threat to himself or the paramedics.

According to analysis from Metro Council attorney Jon Cooper, the Fire Department did not have an established policy for how first responders should restrain someone when necessary. Such a policy has since been established.

Nonetheless, the Metro medical examiner determined Becerra’s cause-of-death was his seizure disorder, with an enlarged heart listed as a secondary cause of death.

This opinion was seconded by Metro’s own medical expert, who reviewed the case after Peete’s lawsuit was filed.

Peete’s attorneys produced their own expert, who said Becerra died because of pressure applied to his chest when he was restrained.

“Since there is conflicting testimony as to the combative nature of the patient, no written protocol regarding restraint, and the EMS crew’s testimony that they never received proper training, it is possible that a jury could return a larger verdict against the Metropolitan Government,” the Council agenda analysis said in recommending the $250,000 settlement.

No disciplinary action was ever taken against any of the Metro workers.

Download court documents listed below for additional information.


Peete_v_Metro--USDC--13Jul2005--cplt.pdf441.7 KB
Peete_v_Metro--USDC--2Jul2009--dismiss.pdf21.83 KB

5 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 7/23/09 at 3:25

We/the city got off easy. The EMT's think they have more power and authority then they have and perform un-necessary procedures which is counter productive.

I witnessed them take three minutes trying to install an IV into a possible heart attach victim in the ambulance when the hospital was less then 1 minute away.

When she got to the hospital they had to literally stop her heart and restart it to correct the problem.

We need an ambulance and 2 fire trucks dispatched to every call WHY? They have to full stop at redlights WHY when they can see nothing is coming.

From what I have seen I would rate the ambulance service fair to poor and we the city should not be doing it, the hospitals should be or it should be a seperate entity from the fire department supported by the receiving hospital.

By: wolfy on 7/23/09 at 6:33

idgaf...This is perfect example of a response from someone who doesn't know wth they're talking about. First off, if the emt's hadn't have restrained him and his heart stopped, the Fire dept. would be sued for not using cardiac stimulate drugs. You can sue a ham sandwich if you want. If there was a written policy in place, this frivilous lawsuit would've been defended. Secondly, Fire Engines are despatched with medic units simply because there's more Engines than ambulances in the county and chances are a patient would receive pre hospital care sooner. If they didn't use this practice? Uh they'd be sued! And thirdly, Why do they stop at redlights on emergency calls? Because its a state law! Go read the Vanessa K. Free Emergency Services Training Act 2005, where a UTC college student was t-boned and killed by a police officer busting through a red light running 80 mph with lights only and no siren. If Fire equipment didn't stop at red lights and hit and killed someone? Riiiiight....they'd get sued! Notice a common thread here? So get some facts before you open your mouth and remove all doubt.

By: sidneyames on 7/23/09 at 7:00

wolfy you are so right on. Every time I have needed 911, they have been there for me. And when I'm out driving, and I hear a siren, I pay attention. You would not believe the number of cars/trucks who don't. I'm glad the fire engines slow down to almost a stop at red lights. It does save lives. I agree, idagaf, get the facts before you open your mouth.

By: pandabear on 7/23/09 at 8:21

idgaf...This is perfect example of a response from someone who doesn't know wth they're talking about. First off, if the emt's hadn't have restrained him and his heart stopped, the Fire dept. would be sued for not using cardiac stimulate drugs."

They restrained him and his heart DID stop.

You mean, if they hadn't "restrained" him, he'd still be walking around, right ?

By: wolfy on 7/23/09 at 4:07

pandabear.....His heart stopped because of "Excited Dilerium" and not from being restrained. If that was the case, criminal charges would've been filed for murder. On the advice from Metro lawyers, the city settled based on the fact that the NFD didn't have a written OPG on restraining seizure patients. Drawing a direct relation between the patients restraint and his death was a typical lawyer tactic. Nevermind the facts and distort the truth as much as possible. The city was meerly avoiding a long drawn out PR hit while knowing they couldn't win. While Tort prevented a huge payout.