Yaugeni Kralkin, 56, filed suit in New York’s State Supreme Court arguing the city, the Fire Department and the four emergency medical workers who were administering to him in June were negligent in their duties.
The New York Times reports Kralkin began tending to his own needs during an ambulance ride when he unbuckled the straps of the gurney and opened the doors of the moving vehicle.
In his lawsuit, Kralkin is accusing the workers of failing in their duties, saying they did not stop him from exiting the ambulance and are thus responsible for the injuries he sustained after hitting the pavement.
The Times reports Kralkin’s argument centers on one point: He was incredibly drunk, with a blood-alcohol level so high he was unaware of his actions, he says, even as he unbuckled straps and ultimately dived from the vehicle, according to his lawyer. The emergency medical workers failed in their duty to protect him, the lawsuit contends, even from himself, in his inebriated state — attributed to a bottle of cognac.
His lawyer admits for the Times Kralkin was severely impaired, but says the unexpected exit is a clear indication he wasn’t thinking clearly.
“The facts are unusual,” Kralkin’s lawyer Borislav Chernyy tells the Times. “He certainly did get himself out of the ambulance, but our position is that he was so grossly unsober, he had so much alcohol in his system, that the condition he was in rendered him the equivalent of helpless, absolutely helpless to make informed decisions about his own safety.”
According to the Times, Kralkin was knocked unconscious, had a seizure and sustained cuts and bruises from his jump June 11, 2016, according to the suit, in which he seeks compensation for his medical bills as well as damages.
The Fire Department declined to comment for the Times on the case, citing the pending litigation. Although the suit has been filed, as of Monday the city tells the Times it has not yet received the papers.
“We will review the complaint and investigate the allegations once we are served,” said Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the city Law Department, said in email to the Times.
Robert Ungar, the spokesman for the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors F.D.N.Y. Local 2507, the union that represents the four medical workers named in the suit — Frank Cicciarello, Franklyn Birnbaum, Kimberly Marshall and Lauren Broccoli — said the workers had no legal responsibility for Kralkin’s actions, no matter what his state was.
Unlike the police, Ungar said, emergency medical workers are unarmed and do not have the authority to restrain people against their will. The buckles on a stretcher or gurney in an ambulance are merely a version of a seatbelt: “They are not involuntary restraints; it is not a straitjacket situation,” he tells the Times.
“There is no provision for locking anybody in,” Ungar added for the Times. “What is this E.M.T. supposed to do to stop somebody who loses control of themselves and does something crazy like that? It’s not their job to get into a physical altercation with somebody who decides they are going to try and jump out of the ambulance.”
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