On May 30, 2010, 18-year-old James Ballentine (“decedent”) was involved in a terrible collision in which his vehicle rolled over. The crash occurred at 5:09 p.m. on Springfield Highway in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, located in the General Services District of Davidson County and within sight of the boundary line between Davidson County and Robertson County. At 5:10 p.m. and 5:11 p.m., unidentified bystanders placed emergency 911 calls to the Emergency Communications Center of Defendant/Appellee Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro Government”). The 5:11 p. m. caller described the scene to the 911 dispatcher: “rollover, smoke coming from vehicle, one vehicle on its side/ believes four people pinned inside, people are trying to get the people out of the vehicles, worried the vehicles are going to catch on fire.” The decedent was one of the persons pinned in this vehicle. The 911 operator dispatched emergency vehicles and personnel from Goodlettsville, which is in Davidson County. When emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they extricated the decedent from his vehicle. He was then transported to Vanderbilt University Hospital, where he died some 12 hours after the crash.
On February 28, 2011, the decedent’s mother, Plaintiff/Appellant Lori Gregory (“Ms. Gregory”), filed this lawsuit against Metro Government in the Circuit Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. She filed as the decedent’s representative, alleging claims pursuant to Tennessee’s Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”), Tennessee Code Annotated § 29- 20-201, et seq. She alleged in the complaint that the nearest available first responders were not located in Davidson County, but rather were located in the cities of Ridgetop and Greenbrier, which are located in Robertson County. The refusal by Metro Government to summon help from these closer cities, she asserted, caused unnecessary delay that reduced the decedent’s chances of survival or at least increased his pain and suffering. Ms. Gregory claimed that the harm to her son caused by the delay was highly foreseeable, and she cited similar previous incidents near the county line – some involving fatalities. The complaint stated:
(6) The nearest municipality which could have provided emergency assistance to the endangered occupants of these vehicles was the City of Ridgetop, which had an emergency vehicle and trained personnel at the ready about one and a half miles away and capable of responding to the location of the crash on Springfield Highway within less than two minutes.
(7) The City of Greenbrier similarly had an emergency vehicle and trained personnel at the ready a short distance away and capable of responding to the location of the crash on Springfield Highway within less than two minutes.
(8) Despite the ready availability of emergency equipment and personnel who could have responded sooner, personnel of the Defendant Metropolitan Government inexplicably dispatched emergency vehicles and personnel from locations more distant than Ridgetop and Greenbrier, resulting in a longer response time.
(9) While awaiting the arrival of emergency medical personnel, the Plaintiff’s decedent was trapped inside his overturned automobile, suspended upside down by his seat belt.
(10) The Plaintiff’s decedent was extricated from his vehicle by emergency personnel of the City of Goodlettsville. He had to wait on a stretcher, with life threatening injuries, for several minutes for ambulance personnel of the Defendant Metropolitan Government to transport him to the emergency room at Vanderbilt University Hospital. On information and belief, Mr. Ballentine was conscious and suffering during this waiting time.
(11) Despite best efforts of emergency room personnel to treat his injuries, the Plaintiff’s decedent died at Vanderbilt Hospital approximately twelve hours after the collision.
Ms. Gregory sought compensatory damages pursuant to the GTLA based on Metro Government’s conduct.
Judge(s): Holly M. Kirby
Jurisdiction: Tennessee Court of Appeals
Related Categories: Torts
|Trial Court Judge(s)|
|Court of Appeals Judge(s)|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|Alex Dickerson||Office of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Law Department|
|Andrew McClanahan||Office of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Law Department|
|James Robinson||Office of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Law Department|
|Saul Solomon||Office of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Law Department|