Wash. city council approves settlement of claim by daughter of intubated dead man

The city of Bellingham will pay $75,000 to the daughter of a man after fire department personnel practiced "tube checks" on the man's body after his death in an ambulance


Denver Pratt
The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A majority of the Bellingham City Council voted Monday night, Dec. 7, to authorize the mayor to settle a claim for damages filed with the city by a daughter of the deceased man Bellingham Fire Department employees practiced performing endotracheal intubations on in summer 2018.

Six of the seven council members voted to approve the settlement, with only Pinky Vargas abstaining. The council authorized the mayor to settle Moriah Ginn's claim for $75,000.

The city of Bellingham will pay a $75,000 settlement to the daughter of a man whose body was used to practice
The city of Bellingham will pay a $75,000 settlement to the daughter of a man whose body was used to practice "tube checks" at a fire station in 2018. (Photo/City of Bellingham)

Ginn filed the claim July 9 and was seeking $350,000, but had reserved the right to adjust that amount as more information became available to Ginn and her attorney, according to records from the Bellingham City Attorney's Office.

"The disregard for the dignity of her late father caused Ms. Ginn to suffer emotional distress and mental anguish," Ginn's claim states.

Generally under Washington state law, a claim for damages has to be filed before a lawsuit can be filed against the state, a county or city, according to the city attorney's office.

On July 31, 2018, 11 fire department employees, including two office workers, admitted to performing 15 intubations, which were commonly referred to as "tube checks," on the body of Bradley Ginn Sr. who was on the floor of Station 1. Ginn Sr. died in a Medic One ambulance while en route to St. Joseph's hospital, according to previous lawsuits filed over the incident.

No family members were ever notified or asked for consent for the intubations to be performed on Ginn Sr. He also had a valid do not resuscitate order, which meant no life-saving measures, such as intubation, were to be performed.

As of Dec. 2020, the city has paid $400,000 to Ginn Sr.'s family.

Because of these and other settlements, the city also has had to tap a reserve fund for claims and litigation, officials said at a late August council meeting.

Previous claims

The city council settled a federal lawsuit filed by Jai Ginn, the wife of Ginn Sr., for $175,000 at its Aug. 24 meeting and dismissed all claims related to the suit.

Jai Ginn, who had been married to Ginn Sr. for 34 years, filed the federal lawsuit Aug. 1, 2019, in the Western District of Washington in Seattle alleging that the city of Bellingham, fire department employees and Wayne, Whatcom's medical program director, violated her civil rights to due process and for tortious interference with a dead body, according to federal court records.

Jai Ginn had previously filed a claim with the city seeking $15 million in damages over the incident. In late November 2018, the city denied her claim. Ginn Sr.'s son and another daughter also filed claims with the city, which were settled in late January 2019 for $150,000 — with $75,000 going to each of them.

Ginn Sr.'s brother, Robert Fox, of California, also filed a federal lawsuit against the city and fire department employees in June 2019. The city responded in late July 2019 denying the claims and asked for a dismissal, federal court records show.

In late April 2020, Fox's case was put on hold while the Washington State Supreme Court decides whether to review the case and answer the question of whether Fox has legal standing to file a lawsuit and is entitled to damages as a relative of Ginn Sr., as he's not next of kin, court records show.

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(c)2020 The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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