In Tomashek v. Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center et al., Plaintiff filed suit alleging that his wife had called 911 and requested an ambulance to take him to a medical care facility after he became disoriented, aggravated, and disruptive and exhibited other mood disturbance behaviors following inhalation of paint fumes. The 911 dispatcher viewed it as a domestic disturbance and out of concern for the safety of Plaintiff's wife and minor children, dispatched law enforcement to the scene rather than an ambulance. Upon arrival, the officers attempted to speak to Plaintiff and his wife separately, but he became disruptive and violent, necessitating his arrest. Plaintiff sued the Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center, its Director and the Dispatcher alleging that an ambulance should have been sent, rather than law enforcement. Plaintiff also filed suit against the Raleigh County Sheriff's Department, the responding Sheriff's Deputies, West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, Southern Regional Jail and its Administrator alleging unlawful arrest, excessive force, and a failure to provide proper medical treatment post-arrest.
Bailey & Wyant, PLLC Member David Mincer and Associate Harrison Cyrus moved for dismissal of the Emergency Operating Center and its Director and dispatcher on the grounds of statutory immunity provided to 911 system operators in West Virginia, statutory immunity afforded to political subdivisions providing police protection and who formulate and implement written policies for public safety, the public duty doctrine and qualified immunity for the discretionary decision to send law enforcement instead of an ambulance. The Court granted the Motion to Dismiss, finding that the Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center Defendants were entitled to statutory immunity due to the absence of any factual allegation that they acted in a willful or wanton manner in the decision to send law enforcement rather than an ambulance. The clients were all very happy to be able to focus on providing such essential services to the public, rather than ongoing litigation.
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