Paramedics, city face $50M suit after woman declared dead found alive at funeral home

A family is suing the city of Southfield and four paramedics for $50 million over the death of a 20-year-old Michigan woman, reports The New York Times. 

Timesha Beauchamp — pronounced dead in August only to be found alive at a funeral home the same day — died Oct. 18 at Detroit-based Children’s Hospital of Michigan, according to Geoffrey Fieger, the family’s attorney. Ms. Beauchamp had been in a coma for about eight weeks.

Ms. Beauchamp had cerebral palsy and her family called 911 when she was struggling to breathe Aug. 23. Four paramedics spent 30 minutes trying to revive Ms. Beauchamp, but she didn’t show signs of life, Southfield Fire Department Chief Johnny Menifee said at an August news conference. Based on information provided by paramedics over the phone, an emergency department physician then pronounced Ms. Beauchamp dead. 

Later, Ms. Beauchamp was taken to a funeral home, where an employee discovered her breathing with her eyes open, Mr. Fieger said. She was transported to the hospital and put on a ventilator, later dying as a result of hypoxic brain damage. The woman was deprived of oxygen for four hours before arriving at the hospital, according to Mr. Fieger.

The fire department didn’t immediately respond to NYT‘s request for comment, but said in August that the fire and police departments “followed all appropriate city, county and state protocols and procedures in this case.” The department said the situation was being investigated.

As a result, the licenses of the four paramedics, two firefighter paramedics and two firefighter emergency medical technicians were suspended by the state of Michigan, and they have been placed on paid administrative leave by the city, the fire department said in August.

“Our sympathies go out to the Beauchamp Family. We have no further comment at this time due to pending litigation,” Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver said in an Oct. 19 email to NYT.

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