State Supreme court rules against City of Seattle for errant 911 medical response

The Washington State Supreme Court this morning ruled against the City of Seattle in a case over its a 911 medical response call that went very wrong. In response to a 911 call. the city’s 911 call center dispatched a medical unit that went to the wrong address, and it took 15 minutes to resolve the misdirection and send the unit to the proper place.

The city argued that under the “public duty” doctrine, it had no responsibility to respond to a 911 call and thus is immune to lawsuits. In an important clarification, the Court ruled that while the city would be immune if it had chosen not to respond at all, once it voluntarily chose to respond it had a duty to act with “reasonable care”. It did not rule on the specific facts related to the city’s liability for this errant response, but instead remanded the case back to a lower court to decide that question.

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