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$175,000 Awarded to Family of Dropped Oklahoma Patient

SHAWNEE, Ok. -- A judge this week awarded $175,000 to the family of a woman dropped by ambulance workers.

Linda Griffith of Tecumseh filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after her leg was broken when she was dropped Sept. 7, 2004, by REACT EMS ambulance service emergency medical technicians.

After a two-day trial, Pottawatomie County District Judge Douglas Combs on Wednesday awarded Griffith s family $50,000 to compensate for medical costs. The additional funds were for Griffith s pain and suffering, Combs ruled.

Griffith s daughter, Donna Smith of Shawnee, said her mother died in 2005 from a preexisting medical condition. Family members continued the lawsuit because it was what her mother wanted, Smith said.

It s never been about the money, she said. They never would admit they did anything wrong and ultimately that was the justice we were looking for.

Smith said Griffith initially tried to get the ambulance service to pay medical bills associated with her broken leg, but company officials declined, saying the fall was caused because Griffith was a large woman, weighing about 300 pounds.

We are very disappointed in the verdict, said Beverly Pearson, attorney for REACT EMS. We feel like the paramedics did the best job they could under the circumstances.

Pearson said company officials haven t decided if they will appeal the judge s decision.

Griffith s attorney, Greg Wilson, said Combs said it didn t matter if Griffith, 62, weighed 130 pounds or 300 pounds, she was entitled to the same quality of care.

Smith said she bought two-dozen roses Thursday and placed them on her mother s grave to celebrate the ruling.

Ann Kelley: 475-4097, akelley@oklahoman.com

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