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County, dispatcher request lawsuit dismissal

June 14, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - The Washington County Commissioners and dispatcher Robert Myerly filed a motion on Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court to dismiss a complaint against them from the mother and fianc of a woman who died from pregnancy complications.

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 Christina Lynn Hess and her fianc, Danny A. Gibson, were volunteers, resulted in the deaths of Hess, 20, and her unborn baby on March 5, 2003.

Hess' mother, Tammy Reed, and Gibson filed the lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court, blaming Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services Inc. for the deaths.

The suit also named Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Inc., former Smithsburg Ambulance Chief Jason Tracey, two medics and a 911 dispatcher in the deaths.

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In a taped telephone call, Myerly told Karin Nicol, a medic who asked for extra help to treat Hess, that Tracey would not help "because of the fire company."

The County Commissioners' motion argues that the commissioners are entitled to governmental immunity, and that under the Local Government Tort Claims Act, the plaintiff had to give notice of a claim within 180 days after an injury.

The motion to dismiss also argues that Myerly was the dispatcher, that his only involvement in the emergency was in dispatching personnel to the scene and that he was not directly involved in medically assisting or transporting Hess. Citing previous cases, the motion argues that Myerly had no special duty to the person in need and cannot be sued for damages.

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell signed an order on June 4 dismissing the complaint against Tracey.

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

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