T-Mobile cannot be sued in baby’s deathPosted On: Jun. 7, 2019 1:00 PM CST
Family members of a baby who died allegedly because of T-Mobile USA Inc.’s failed technology in making a 911 call cannot pursue litigation against the firm, says a federal appeals court, in overturning a lower court ruling.
In March 2017, seven-month-old Brandon Alex was injured after falling from a daybed, according to Thursday’s ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in Bridget Alex et al. v. T-Mobile US Inc. et al.
His babysitter dialed 911 three separate times from her T-Mobile/MetroPCS cellphone. She was placed on hold each time, for a total of 40 minutes.
Unable to connect to a dispatcher, she eventually called Brandon’s grandmother, who drove him to an emergency room more than an hour after the first 911 call. Brandon was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the hospital.
Brandon’s estate sued T-Mobile for claims arising from his death in state court, and the matter was removed to U.S. District Court in Dallas. Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile moved to dismiss the claims, asserting statutory immunity, which the court rejected.
“Although this case is tragic, and the Estate’s claim is emotionally compelling, Texas law appears to insulate T-Mobile from suit,” said a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel, in reversing the lower court.
“Under the Texas Health and Safety Code… T-Mobile is immune from claims arising out of its provision of 911 services ‘unless the act or omissions proximately causing the claim, damage, or loss constitutes gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct,” said the ruling. “So, the estate must establish proximate cause to prevail on a claim against T-Mobile under the statute.”
After analyzing a comparable case considered by the Texas Supreme Court, the appeals court ruling states, “we conclude that the Supreme Court of Texas would probably rule that the Estate has failed to plead facts that would support a finding of proximate cause.
“Accordingly, the district court erred in attempting to modify
Texas’s proximate cause of law,” said the ruling, in reversing the lower court’s ruling and remanding with instructions to dismiss the action against T-Mobile.
Attorneys in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.