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Calif. city to pay $800K to family of man who died after firefighters wouldn’t enter his care center because of COVID rules

A California city has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a woman who lost her father shortly after firefighters refused entry to her care center over alleged coronavirus precautions.

On the evening of November 17, 2021, 911 dispatchers received a call from a nurse saying: unresponsive patient Rialto Post Acute Care Center is a rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility located in Rialto, California, approximately 80 miles due east of Los Angeles.

The unresponsive patient was Joseph Angulo, a 56-year-old man who entered the facility nearly two weeks ago after a car accident. Body camera footage from Rialto Police Sgt. Ralph Ballew said staff at the care center believed Angulo was in cardiac arrest and desperately tried to resuscitate him while they waited for first responders.

However, despite the emergency situation, three members of the Rialto Fire Department, Fire Capt. Josh Gilliam, Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Payne, and Fire Engineer Mark Brady, refused to enter the facility. He calmly waited outside. “They’re not going to come in,” Ballue can be heard telling a care center employee. “State law says it’s off-limits.”

According to later testimony, one of the firefighters yelled, “You’re doing what you would do if we went in, so hurry up and get him out so we can help.” It is said that report From value.

Earlier that evening, the three firefighters reportedly entered the facility at least twice, making it seem odd that they were strictly adhering to expected procedures in this case. Nevertheless, several employees removed Anglo beds to meet coronavirus-related demand. Then, Sgt. Ballew pushed the bed, which has no wheels, to the emergency exit while another person steered it while an unidentified woman continued to perform chest compressions on Angulo.

Once they were outside, first responders took over and transported Angulo to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

Within a year, Mr. Angulo’s daughter, Bridget Angulo, filed a $100 million lawsuit against the city of Rialto. The city fired Gilliam and Payne and suspended Brady for 10 shifts. Rialto Fire Chief Brian Park said in November 2022 that first responders have never been barred from such nursing homes and that most coronavirus-related restrictions will be lifted by late 2021. he claimed.

But in a shocking development, the department reinstated Gilliam and Payne in January after Kenneth Perea ruled in their favor in an arbitration case. They were paid their back pay and restored to seniority, but were suspended for one week without pay. Brady also had the incident expunged from his record and received full back pay for his suspension. Perea said that while a “preponderance of the evidence” supported the charges against the men, she decided the initial punishment was too harsh.

Despite Perea’s controversial ruling, the city of Rialto agreed to an $800,000 settlement with Angulo last month. On Monday she also signed her contract.

Her lawyer, William Shapiro, argued that she was less interested in money than in ensuring that such an incident never happened again.

“Bridget Angulo is proud that as a result of the civil litigation and a complete independent investigation into this incident, the future emergency care provided by the Rialto Fire Department will fully meet the expectations of the citizens of Rialto,” Shapiro said. I’m confident and confident.”

Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson similarly issued a statement, saying, “We continue to mourn the loss of our patient, and we stand with his family in the hope that the resolution of this unfortunate matter will bring healing to all of us.” I’m praying,” he said.

Lawyers who represented the firefighters during the arbitration process did not respond to requests for comment from the San Bernardino Sun.

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