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Former Smithsburg Ambulance chief dropped from lawsuit

November 30, 1999|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN

A former Smithsburg Ambulance chief was dropped from a lawsuit recently filed by the mother and fiancé of a woman who died from pregnancy complications while the chief was taped making jokes and saying, "...they get what they deserve."

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell signed an order Monday dismissing the complaint against Jason Tracey.

Christina Lynn Hess's mother, Tammy Reed, and Hess's fiancé, Danny A. Gibson, filed the lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court in March, blaming Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services Inc., Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Inc., Tracey, two medics and a 911 dispatcher in the March 5, 2003, death of Hess, 20, and her unborn baby.

The 23-count complaint, which was filed March 2, alleges that bitterness over a dispute between the ambulance company and Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co., where Hess and Gibson were volunteers, resulted in the March 5, 2003, deaths of Hess and her son from pregnancy complications.

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A motion to dismiss was filed May 16 by attorney Roger C. Simmons in Washington County Circuit Court. The motion claimed the plaintiffs failed to establish any facts that connected Tracey to the care of, or deaths of, Hess and her baby.

Tracey was protected from civil liability in the course of his duties, except in cases of willful or grossly negligent actions, under the Fire and Rescue Company Act, according to the motion.

Tracey also was protected by Maryland's Good Samaritan Act, which provides immunity to people who provide assistance or medical care without compensation, according to the motion.

The suit alleged that Tracey made comments that "could be characterized as crude, inconsiderate and offensive," according to the motion, which contended that is not enough to hold him responsible.

The comments Tracey made to dispatcher Robert Myerly had no effect on Hess or her baby or the care they received, according to the motion. His comments were made during two conversations ? one after paramedics had been dispatched to the scene and one after Hess and her baby had been taken to the hospital and pronounced dead, according to the motion.

The civil suit also asserted invasion of privacy claims against Tracey. It was not an invasion of privacy to talk about the plaintiff's private life to a single person, or even to a small group of people, according to the motion. Tracey only made the comments to one person, Myerly, according to the motion.

Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services Inc., Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Inc., Myerly, and medics Karin Nicol and James Ulrich also have requested dismissal or partial dismissal of the plaintiffs' complaint.

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