A lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court alleges a five-year-old disabled child (“Z.C.”) suffered permanent brain damage during transport on the Palm Tran Connection service for disabled and elderly patrons when the driver ignored calls for help, failed to provide first aid, and delayed critical access to care and emergency medical personnel.  The complaint further alleges that The Arc, a charter school for severely disabled children in Riviera Beach, failed to provide an appropriate chaperone, a service that was promised to ensure Z.C. would have proper care and supervision during transport.

On Sept. 3, 2013, Z.C., who suffered from medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, seizures, and mental retardation, was on her way to school when she started to show signs of distress.  A passenger alerted the driver that the child needed attention, but the driver neglected to offer any aid and continued driving without prioritizing her needs.  A second urging from the same passenger alerted the driver that the child had stopped breathing, which finally prompted her to pull over, but instead of immediately calling for emergency services, she called the dispatcher, further delaying access to critically needed care. By the time emergency services were finally alerted to the scene, Z.C., who had not been breathing for approximately 15 minutes, had to be resuscitated and transported to the hospital, where she remained for two weeks.

Adam Langino, an attorney at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is representing Z.C. and her mother Mikeisha Fuse. “The diagnosis for Z.C. is grim, as her brain was deprived of oxygen for approximately 15 minutes, resulting in permanent, catastrophic injuries and intensification of her existing medical conditions,” Langino stated upon filing the case today.  “This child has already had to endure so much in order to survive, and it is tragic that professionals entrusted to her care made no effort to timely call 911 or provide her first aid.  A simple call or simple aid could have changed this outcome.”

Defendant Metro Mobility, the company contracted to provide transportation services for the disabled, was commissioned by Palm Beach County on August 13, 2012.  Over the past two years, the company has drawn numerous complaints from riders and has been fined at least $2.5 million dollars for contract violations such as late-arriving and non-showing transportation, long rides, and lost drivers.

“The county has failed to timely take action despite the company’s documented record of failures and fines, and now a child has paid the ultimate price for their negligence,” Langino added.

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