When in Doubt, Call 911: A Lesson About Negligence

Bert Maxwell's picture

Children are the future, both for their families and for the nation. And as such, they are, in my honest opinion, the nation’s greatest resource. And like every resource that we hold dear, we need to take the utmost care of them.

But sadly that wasn’t what happened on Oct. 29, 2010, when the personnel at Ogden School District failed to provide immediate assistance to one of their students, a 7-year old boy named Jose Eduardo Flores Bedolla, when he was having difficulty breathing. Jose’s parents could not be contacted immediately.

Jose’s ordeal would go on for over two hours before his mother’s arrival. During this period, school employees claim to have seen Jose crying, shouting, sweating, and vomiting. It was apparent from his gradually blue skin that he wasn’t getting sufficient oxygen. 

Jose was successfully brought to the McKay-Dee Hospital where he died later that day. Now, Jose Eduardo Flores Bedolla’s family is suing the school district for at least the amount of $300,000 for damages. 

The family claims that Jose had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the left side of the heart. His previous school, Horace Mann Elementary School, took note of his condition and laid out an appropriate emergency plan for him. The Ogden School District did not, despite being aware of his delicate condition.

The family’s lawyer claims that the school district was negligent in this regard.

When in Doubt, Call 911: A Lesson About Negligence

Now, this begs the question: what are the basic elements of a tort claim of negligence?

1. Duty of Care

This refers to the legal obligation of one party to another to act in a certain manner. In this case, the school was obliged by law to ensure the safety and well-being of its students within school premises.

2. Breach

Now, this element seeks to determine whether or not there was a breach in the duty of care by the party held by virtue of law to act in a particular manner. In this regard, the school failed to ensure the safety of Jose. In failing to contact the proper authorities when the parents could not be reached, the school failed to exercise initiative to ensure Jose’s well-being.

3. Causation

Did the breach in duty of care result in an untoward incident? This is the question that this element seeks to answer. The school’s failure to provide an appropriate emergency plan for Jose, or even to simply call 911, resulted in Jose’s prolonged suffering.

4. Damages

The last element seeks to determine whether the negligence resulted in damages that can be remedied by monetary compensation. This case is one that cannot be remedied by money. A 7-year-old lies dead because of the school’s failure to take proper action. 

Now, I’m not a legal expert by any means. But anyone can see, if you base the entire case on these elements of negligence, this was not an accident. An accident implies that nobody is at fault. This was negligence. And it’s a tough lesson to be learned. When in doubt, call 911.

When in Doubt, Call 911: A Lesson About Negligence