Friday, December 24, 2010

W. Virginia man sues Autism Services Center over son's death

From the West Virginia Record:

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. -- A man is suing Autism Services Center after he claims it is responsible for his son's death.

Christopher J. Cline had autism and moderate mental retardation and lived with his parents until his death on July 31, 2009, according to a complaint filed Nov. 22 in Cabell Circuit Court.

On July 31, 2009, Autism Services Center assigned Christopher Cline's day services to its employee Joey Cutler. Cutler picked Christopher Cline up at his home and drove him to the Cabell County Public Library, according to the suit.

Daryl Cline, Christopher Cline's father, claims while Cutler and his son were at the library, his son went to the men's restroom, which meant he was out of Cutler's eyesight when Cutler heard Christopher Cline "fall hard and let out a loud bellow."

Cutler assisted Christopher Cline in getting up from the floor and realized that he was disoriented and took longer than usual to be able to get up from the floor, according to the suit.

Daryl Cline claims immediately following the fall, Cutler decided not to seek medical attention for his son and instead drove him to Barboursville Park in order to walk around the track.

While at Barboursville Park, Christopher Cline and Cutler walked around the track several times until Christopher Cline "fell again and let out another loud bellow," according to the suit. Cutler, again, chose not to seek medical attention and decided to drive Christopher Cline to the Huntington Mall.

Daryl Cline claims while Cutler's car was in route to the mall, Christopher Cline began to vomit profusely for several minutes, so Cutler pulled his car over and helped him change his shirt, but did not seek medical attention.

Upon arriving at the mall, Cutler "described a 'gasping, gurgling sound' from Chris in the back seat, who had then become unresponsive, with eyes closed," according to the suit.

Daryl Cline claims upon arrival of EMS personnel, Cutler was asked if Christopher Cline had any recent injuries and "apparently responded that he was 'not sure of any recent injuries.'"

Christopher Cline's patient care record does not reveal that Cutler "informed the responding EMS personnel of either fall Chris had suffered earlier that morning or that Chris had been profusely vomiting shortly before EMS arrived," according to the suit.

Testing revealed the Christopher Cline had suffered a shallow bleed on both sides of his brain, but because he had then reached the neurological stage of fixed and dilated pupils, simple evacuation of the shallow subdural hematomas had been eliminated as a surgical option, according to the suit.

Daryl Cline is seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Chad S. Lovejoy.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.