Apr. 25 in The Morning News
dismisses suit against Air-Evac, hospital
claimed infant died after medical helicopter equipment malfunctioned
LANA F. FLOWERS
The Morning News/NWAonline.net
lawsuit claiming that a baby died because of faulty equipment on
an Air-Evac helicopter en route from Siloam Springs to Northwest
Medical Center in Springdale was dismissed Thursday, because the
deceased infant's half-brother was not included as a plaintiff in
the wrongful death lawsuit.
Benton County Circuit Judge David Clinger, after hearing arguments
on Thursday, granted Air-Evac's and Northwest Medical Center's
joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by James and Melissa
Clinger dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit with prejudice, which
means the case cannot be refiled.
The Andrews' attorney, Richard Marrs of Tulsa, said he plans to
appeal Clinger's ruling.
Clinger ruled that Arkansas laws require that a wrongful death
lawsuit be filed by all the heirs and statutory beneficiaries of
the deceased. In the couple's suit, only James and Melissa,
parents of the deceased infant, are named as plaintiffs in the
wrongful death action.
There also is a minor half-brother of the dead baby's, who also
should have been named as a plaintiff in the wrongful death
action, Clinger ruled.
Marrs asked Clinger to allow the couple to amend their lawsuit and
simply add the name of the deceased infant's minor half-brother as
Air-Evac's attorney, James Estes, countered that adding a
plaintiff creates a new lawsuit. Estes said that is not permitted
because the medical malpractice statute states that plaintiffs
have up to two years after the date of the alleged malpractice to
file the lawsuit.
The parents filed the wrongful death lawsuit on Aug. 3, 2000, and
the suit alleges the medical negligence occurred in December 1999.
The baby died on Dec. 23, 1999, Estes noted.
That means the two-year window for bringing the medical
malpractice lawsuit closed in December 2001, Estes said, and
it is now too late to refile the case with a new plaintiff added.
Clinger agreed with Estes' arguments, and noted the minor
half-brother should have been named as a plaintiff sooner.
"I believe that the Supreme Court has said you have to cure
it prior to the running of the statute of limitations. You have
two years to make it right. You have two years to name all your
heirs," Clinger said.
James and Melissa Andrews, parents of the deceased infant, Tyler
Garrett Andrews, sued Air-Evac EMS Inc., Northwest Medical Center,
Community Care Foundation Inc. and Quorum Health Group of
The suit stated that Northwest Medical Center is the name under
which the Community Care Foundation and Quorum Health Group did
business in 1999.
Tyler Garrett Andrews was born on Dec. 18, 1999, at Siloam Springs
Memorial Hospital. He was born with hylane membrane disease, which
required that the baby have oxygen to assist with breathing until
his lungs developed, according to the suit.
Representatives of Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital called Air-Evac
to take Tyler Andrews to Northwest Medical Center in Springdale on
Dec. 18, 1999.
There was an attempt to load the baby onto the Air-Evac helicopter
soon after it landed, but the infant had to be removed from the
isolet, an oxygen-delivery device for infants that was brought
from Springdale in the helicopter, because the isolet
malfunctioned, the suit stated.
After the isolet was "allegedly repaired," according to
the suit, Tyler Andrews was loaded onto the helicopter again and
the helicopter left Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital at 2:30 a.m.
Dec. 19, 1999.
During the flight to Springdale, the isolet ran out of oxygen, the
The helicopter landed in Springdale at 2:45 a.m. Dec. 19, 1999,
and Tyler Andrews was admitted to Northwest Medical Center.
The baby was "in severe respiratory distress, and his skin
had turned purple," the suit stated.
Tyler Andrews died on Dec. 23, 1999, from damage to his brain
caused by lack of oxygen during the Air-Evac flight, according to
2003 The Kentucky EMS Connection. All rights reserved. News stories
may be copyrighted by another organization. Original material may be reproduced provided
source is credited.