An appeals court has reversed a ruling in favor of a Scottsdale Insurance Co. unit in the death of a woman who was dropped while being put into an ambulance.
In July 2006, Mission, Texas-based ambulance company Preferred Ambulance was transporting Darline Rigsby from a dialysis center to her home by ambulance, according to Wednesday's ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in National Casualty Co. v. Western World Insurance Co.
Emergency medical technicians placed Ms. Rigsby on a gurney and rolled her toward the ambulance outside, but a wheel caught on something outside the ambulance and the gurney tipped over, according to the ruling.
Ms. Rigsby, who fell to the ground, suffered a fractured right shoulder, requiring that her dialysis port be moved from her right arm to her neck, according to the ruling. Ms. Rigsby died several days later of a myocardial infarction, the ruling stated. Her daughter, Alma Batie, filed a wrongful death and survival action against Preferred Ambulance and complex litigation in the case ensued.
Insurers in coverage dispute
The parties involved settled the underlying lawsuit, with the ambulance company’s insurers, National Casualty Co., a unit of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Scottsdale Insurance, and Franklin Lakes, N.J.-based Western World Insurance Co. each contributing $100,000 to the settlement.
The insurers then sued each other in U.S. District Court in Midland, Texas, seeking to recover the $100,000.
Preferred Ambulance had a commercial automobile policy issued by National Casualty. It also had a commercial general liability policy issued by Western World that provided professional liability coverage, specifically including ambulance services, according to court papers.
Because the technician was touching both the gurney and the ambulance when the gurney tipped over, the technicians “had clearly begun the process of placing Rigsby into the ambulance” and her injury resulted from the use of an auto, a 5th Circuit panel ruled 2-1 in reversing the lower court’s ruling in favor of National Casualty.
The appeals court remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings.