LOCKPORT – The City of Lockport faces a wrongful-death lawsuit, blaming negligence at the Fire Department for the Sept. 20 death of an alderman’s mother.
The suit over the death of Jeanette A. Lombardi, mother of Alderman John Lombardi III, was filed last week in State Supreme Court. It did not list a figure for damages.
The suit filed by attorney Gregory Stamm names Beth A. Arajs, administrator of Mrs. Lombardi’s estate, as the plaintiff. However, Stamm said it’s really being filed by the whole family. Mrs. Lombardi had four children, including the 1st Ward alderman.
Stamm alleges that the 75-year-old woman died at her West Avenue home after going into anaphylactic shock at about 11 a.m., in an apparent reaction to medication administered during a dental visit.
“I still haven’t had a chance to ask people in the City of Lockport their side of the story, but I was able to piece together the timeline from the various fire departments and the sheriff’s 911 dispatch summary,” Stamm said. “We feel there’s an unacceptable gap in time from when the City of Lockport was notified and when somebody finally showed up, because the City of Lockport did not have a truck in service. I’m not sure what they were doing.”
Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said, “I’m not aware that any determination has been made of an active causation between our response time and Mrs. Lombardi’s untimely demise.”
Ottaviano told The Buffalo News in December that his investigation showed that there were two ambulance calls simultaneously that morning. One was a mental health call to Urban Park Towers, the Main Street apartment complex, and the other was a training mission at VanDeMark Chemical in Lowertown.
However, both calls were finishing up at about the time the 911 call came in from the Lombardi home, Ottaviano said. But it was up to two officers at the Fire Department to decide whether to send a Lockport ambulance or seek mutual aid from a volunteer company in the Town of Lockport.
They chose the latter. After South Lockport Fire Company failed to respond, Wrights Corners Fire Company was called. By the time its crew reached the Lombardi home, the woman was nonresponsive, Stamm said. “It’s 13 minutes we’re complaining about. That’s a long time when they’re right down the block from you,” Stamm said. “I think it’s pretty clear-cut what happened here.”
“There’s a question of whether the two officers followed protocol and policy,” Ottaviano said. “The follow-up question is: If they didn’t, was that a proximate cause of her demise? It could be that they didn’t completely follow protocol, but it had no causation or effect with respect to her demise. Her demise could have been caused entirely by whatever procedure she had done that day at the dentist, regardless of what time we got there.”
Stamm said, “I’ve had dental people review this, and they find no fault with the dentist. Anaphylactic shock is treated by epinephrine; it’s that simple. If kids have the allergy, they carry around an EpiPen. It’s a simple remedy to the problem, but somebody has to show up to do it.”
The death certificate listed the time as 3:30 p.m., but Stamm said, “They don’t pronounce you dead until they’ve tried everything imaginable at the hospital.”