AED Lawsuits: Family sues after teen is left disabled


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AED lawsuits: No AED at a Maryland pool, family sues.

It was a parent’s nightmare. Three years ago, 15-year-old James Becker, a healthy, active teen and a member of his school’s swim team, nearly drowned at the local swim club. His mother and others saw him struggling in the water and pulled him from the pool. Paramedics were called, but it took 13 minutes for them to reach the Woodcroft Swim Club, where they found James without a pulse.

There was no AED (automated external defibrillator) at the pool.

James was eventually revived using a defibrillator and other emergency treatment, but it seems that the defibrillation shock came too late to avoid serious brain damage. Today, James requires a wheelchair, round-the-clock care, and is unable to speak intelligibly.

His parents, William J. Becker III and Mary Becker, are suing the swim club and DRD Management for $40 million, asserting that they failed to “timely recognize and respond” to the emergency. One of their concerns is that the swim club in the Baltimore area did not have anautomated external defibrillator (AED) on site. AEDs have a strong recorded of restoring the heartbeat if they are used in the first 10 minutes after the heart stops.

“He literally went from a normal, all-American boy who should have started college this year to basically the worst fate I can imagine,” the Beckers’ attorney, H. Briggs Bettigan, told the Baltimore Sun. “He can’t eat, walk, or talk. He’s completely trapped, but he still has cognition – he recognizes people.”

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AED lawsuits: James Becker’s parents sue for $40 million (click to view using Internet Explorer; may require a download to view in other browsers)

The AED lawsuit has received extensive television news coverage in the Baltimore area. Maryland AED Expert Cheryl Anne DeHart joins the Beckers and a group of parents supporting State Senator Katherine Klausmeier, D-Baltimore County, who has annually proposed Maryland AED legislation that would require AEDs at all public pools in the state.

An attorney representing the swim club said that the pool’s three lifeguards responded to the emergency, and that James was given CPR by a nurse who happened to be swimming at the pool that day.

Does your organization have an AED? I can’t help but wonder if getting at least one AED could be a way to avoid your own AED lawsuit. Contact AED Expert Cheryl Anne DeHart for details.

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