Thursday, February 24, 2011

MINEOLA, NY — Attorneys John Dalli and Salvatore Marino of Dalli & Marino, LLP announced today that they will file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the City of New York on behalf of the family of a Brooklyn woman who died as a result of negligence by multiple city agencies in conjunction with the December 26-27 snowstorm. The firm says her death was caused by an inefficient 911 emergency system and the city’s refusal to declare a snow emergency, despite the fact that the city was hit with more than two feet of snow that clogged roadways and caused traffic problems.

On December 27, 2010, Lillie Cockburn, a 56-year-old woman, was found semi-conscious and lying on the floor in her Brooklyn apartment on Tompkins Avenue by her son Jason. Jason helped her back into bed and called 911 for an ambulance.  The 911 operator who answered said she would send an ambulance.

Jason gave his mother some fluids to drink and then went outside to shovel a path to the street for the ambulance crew and waited for the ambulance. 

The ambulance never arrived and the family called 911 again, but the line was busy. They also called all the local taxi companies, which told them that no cabs were available.

Jason left his mother with the other household residents and went outside to try to find help or a taxi cab to get her to the hospital. He spotted a fire truck at the intersection of Tompkins Avenue and Lafayette Avenue. He ran to the fire truck and explained to the firefighters what had happened to his mother. One of the firefighters directed him to an EMS vehicle that was a block away. Jason found the EMS vehicle but the operator of the vehicle told him he could not help him and told him to call 911 again.

Jason ran back to the house and repeatedly called 911 but could not get through. An ambulance never arrived. At approximately 1 p.m. a family member with a car arrived and took Lillie to Interfaith Hospital. By the time she arrived at the hospital, Lillie had extremely low blood pressure and a faint pulse. Despite the doctors’ best efforts, Lillie died. According to the family, hospital personnel told them that they could have saved her life if she arrived earlier.

Adding insult to injury, an unidentified New York City police officer called the family later that evening and asked if they had requested an ambulance earlier in the day. Jason told the police officer that he called an ambulance for his mother but no ambulance ever came and his mother died. The policeman said, “Oh” and hung up.

This is the second lawsuit that the city is facing because of its negligence and inaction during the snowstorm. The family of a 75-year-old woman is seeking $20 million in damages when the woman, Yvonne Freeman, died of a heart attack while her family waited three hours for an ambulance. Her daughter Laura tried for almost 45 minutes before reaching a 911 emergency operator.

“The city’s 911 emergency system failed miserably and was not properly maintained during what was a major snowstorm,” Mr. Dalli said. “In addition, the city failed to declare a snow emergency, resulting in blocked streets and gridlock, which could have been prevented.”

For more information, call (516) 292-4700 or visit www.dallimarino.com.