Mother Sues UC Berkeley after Son Left Brain Damaged - News - @

Mother Sues UC Berkeley after Son Left Brain Damaged

The roommate & another resident performed CPR & didn't call paramedics for two hours


Nanette Asimov, The San Francisco Chronicle | | Friday, February 24, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO -- The mother of a UC Berkeley student left severely brain-damaged in 2010 after a drug overdose at a campus residence sued the University of California regents and the Berkeley Student Cooperative on Thursday, saying they knew of rampant drug abuse at the house but failed to protect the students.

Madelyn Bennett of San Diego is seeking damages that could soar into the millions of dollars from UC, which owns the Cloyne Court co-op, and from the agency that leases and manages the residence.

Her son, John Bennett Gibson, requires round-the-clock nursing and custodial care, according to the lawsuit filed on his behalf in Alameda County Superior Court.

Gibson was a 21-year-old junior on March 18, 2010, when his roommate at Cloyne noticed at about 9 a.m. that Gibson appeared to be having a bad dream, the suit states.

While the roommate is not named in the suit, it accuses him of giving Gibson unspecified illegal drugs the night before. It says they and the roommate's girlfriend took the drugs together.

By 11 a.m., the roommate saw that Gibson "did not appear to be breathing and had bluish lips," according to the lawsuit, which quotes from the police report.

Instead of calling paramedics, the roommate and another resident performed CPR on Gibson then moved him into another room and didn't call 911 until 1 p.m., according to the lawsuit.

Gibson had a heart attack because of the drugs he took, but he was deprived of necessary oxygen and suffered a brain injury because Cloyne residents waited so long to get help, according to the suit.

Bennett blames the Berkeley Student Cooperative for establishing house rules that discouraged students from promptly calling police or paramedics by requiring them to ask permission from house leaders to make the calls, and to do so only as a last resort.

This "created a 'wild-west' environment at Cloyne, where residents believed that 'anything goes' and there would be no accountability for illegal drug trafficking or abuse," the suit states.

About 150 students live in the low-rent cooperative at 2600 Ridge Road near the Berkeley campus.

The suit says drugs were an ongoing and well-known problem at Cloyne, and that the regents were legally responsible for doing something about it.

Bennett's lawyer, Charles Kelly, said the case is like that of landlords who bear responsibility if they rent to known criminals, or of motels that fail to protect guests by installing door peepholes and chains. He has litigated and settled both types of cases, he said.

The regents did not respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers for the Berkeley Student Cooperative were unavailable to comment Thursday.

But Jan Stokley, executive director of the agency that manages 20 co-ops and apartments for 1,250 students, said keeping residents safe is the top priority.

"Illegal activity of any kind, including drug use and underage drinking, is prohibited in the co-ops," Stokley said. "The distribution of drugs on co-op property is strictly banned."

Bennett, pointing to a second overdose at Cloyne four months after her son's, said her goal is to force the university to "pay enough money that they will agree to make meaningful changes so that no other family has to go through this."

Her son's care costs $300,000 a year, she said, and she decided to sue after unsuccessful efforts to get the Berkeley Student Cooperative's insurance company to pay for it.

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, brain damage, cpr

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

FDNY Rescues Boy on Frozen River

Video captures rescue on the Bronx River.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Three Injured in Philadelphia Collapse

Parapet wall falls through roof of store.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Explosion Shakes Mexico Hospital

Rescuers search ruins of children’s hospital.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Hands On February 2015

Here’s a look at this month’s product hands on.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Nightwatch Series Premiere Party

JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman attends the series premiere of A&E's new reality show, "Nightwatch."
More >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >