Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Widow to get $200,000 to settle suit against county

NEW PORT RICHEY — The widow of a man who died nearly five months after being dropped on a stretcher will get $200,000 to settle her lawsuit with Pasco County.

Louise Fichter alleged in a complaint filed in 2011 that the death of her 79-year-old husband, Robert, who was injured in an Oct. 5, 2009, auto accident, was the result of negligence on the part of Pasco Fire Rescue.

The wreck, which also injured Mrs. Fichter, occurred at Mitchell and Trinity Oaks boulevards. Rescue crews put Fichter on a firm spine board and then onto a stretcher before loading him onto an ambulance. When they arrived at Community Hospital, Fichter's stretcher fell, causing a cut to the head.

"Plaintiff contends the laceration resulted after her late husband's head struck the galvanized steel bumper of the rescue unit and not the firm spine board as claimed by the Fire Rescue unit's paramedic," according to a memo from Assistant County Attorney Anthony Salzano to county commissioners, who signed off Tuesday on the proposed settlement.

Mrs. Fichter alleged that her husband was unnecessarily placed on a spine board because he did not have any head injuries before being dropped.

It appears the stretcher was dropped because a bar on the back of the stretcher failed to catch on a latch attached to the floor of the ambulance, which, in turn, failed to extend the front legs of the stretcher.

Once at the hospital, Fichter's wound was closed with four staples. He and his wife were transferred to Mease Dunedin, where they stayed three days before being sent home.

Several weeks later, Fichter was readmitted to Mease after complaining of headaches that were found to be because of fluid collecting on both sides of his brain around the injury. He underwent surgery and was readmitted to a rehab center, where he remained for two weeks. After that, he had to return to the hospital for a second surgery and was then sent back to rehab.

There, he began having difficulty with his speech and the use of his left hand, the memo said. A month later, he had to have a surgery in which shunts were put into his head to drain fluid. Scans showed a new hemorrhage and right-sided weakness. Fichter also got pneumonia.

Fichter was admitted to hospice Feb. 5, where he died 18 days later.

County attorneys recommended the county settle the lawsuit for $200,000, the maximum that governments are liable for without a special claims bill from the Legislature.

Based on the facts of the case, the attorney and risk-management officials said they "believe that a jury will likely reach a verdict that will exceed" that amount.

Mrs. Fichter agreed to drop the case in exchange for the settlement.

"The settlement is recommended in light of the risk of a higher verdict at trial together with expected costs," the memo said.

Widow to get $200,000 to settle suit against county 09/24/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Republicans to unveil broad tax cuts Wednesday, put off tough decisions

    Business

    President Donald Trump and top Republicans will promise a package of sweeping tax cuts for companies and individuals, the Washington Post reports, but the GOP leaders will stop short of labeling many of the tax breaks they hope to strip away, putting off controversial decisions that threaten to sink the party's tax …

    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  2. Double your fun: Twitter's testing a 280-character limit for tweets

    News

    Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey last year made a definitive announcement about the company's famous 140-character count amid rumors that the firm would substantially relax the limit. "It's staying," Dorsey told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. "It's a good constraint for us."

    In this 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. [AP photo]
  3. Dead woman with sun tattoo found near elementary school

    News

    TAMPA --- She had a tattoo of a sun on her abdomen, with the words "The World is Mine."

  4. CentCom shares complexities of job with Tampa Rotarians

    Macdill

    TAMPA — As the commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel has one of the world's most challenging to-do lists.

    Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, tells Tampa Rotarians about the complexities of the region he oversees. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Times staff]
  5. Rick Baker debuts new campaign ad to woo younger voters

    Blogs

    Former mayor Rick Baker's campaign unveiled a reboot of sorts Tuesday with the debut of a new TV ad.

    In a new ad, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker surprises a group of people in a restaurant who are talking about his accomplishments. He says, "You ain't seen nothing yet."