Family settles wrongful death lawsuit with Seattle for $1.8M
Oct 3, 2023, 7:07 AM | Updated: 11:16 am
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
The family of a man who died of a heart attack after first responders delayed responding to the incident reached a $1.8M settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit with the City of Seattle, their attorney reported.
A spokesperson for the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) confirmed a settlement was reached in a prepared statement emailed to KIRO Newsradio Tuesday morning, but it did not reveal any dollar figure amounts.
On Nov. 2 2021, paramedics waited 13 minutes to go into William Yurek’s home, which was mistakenly listed as hostile to responders. Yurek’s 13-year-old son called 911 twice that day reporting his 46-year-old father was experiencing chest pains and having trouble breathing.
The family originally sued the city for $10 million, and now, after the $1.8M settlement, the family’s attorney, Mark Lindquist, said despite losing Yurek, the policy that kept medics outside has been rectified.
“The family wanted justice and accountability,” their attorney, Mark Lindquist, said. “They are pleased the case was resolved justly and fairly. Additionally, we are pleased the city took steps to fix this issue so it won’t happen again.”
Lindquist explained Yurek’s address was on a list of addresses belonging to people who have been combative with law enforcement. When paramedics encounter any of these addresses, they must wait for a police escort before entering the building. A previous tenant had been on the outdated list.
“SFD has since changed its operating guidelines and procedures for occupancy notes so they have an expiration date to get reviewed and renewed,” the department said as part of its statement to KIRO Newsradio. “While occupancy notes are generally set to expire after 365 days, those pertaining to individuals are on a 180-day timeline.
“Additionally, caution notes about the need for (Seattle Police Department) assistance due to violent or threatening behavior are to be verified after every response dispatched to the address,” the statement continued. “Lastly, a caution note is to be removed if SFD learns the occupant no longer lives at the address.”
Looking back at what happened that day
“The list was wrong. The list hadn’t been updated,” Lindquist said in an interview when the lawsuit was first announced. “A previous tenant had been hostile to first responders, but Mr. Yurek had never been. He should not have been on the list.”
Medics eventually violated protocol and entered the home, trying CPR and a defibrillator but were unable to save Yurek.
Lindquist said if help had come a few minutes sooner, Yurek may still be here today.
“Medical experts will tell you that every minute medical aid is delayed in a situation like this reduces the chances of survival by 7 to 10%,” he said. “Doctors and experts have looked at this and believe Mr. Yurek would have had a very good chance of survival if the medics had administered aid as soon as they arrived. Every single minute counts in a cardiac arrest situation, and there was a 13-minute delay here.”
“SFD remains committed to protecting the health and safety of all Seattle neighbors, and we will continue to improve practices and update approaches to keep residents and firefighters safe,” the conclusion to SFD’s statement to KIRO Newsradio read.
Contributing: Sam Campbell, KIRO Newsradio; Steve Coogan