Family watched EMT drop 72-year-old from gurney before he died, Maine lawsuit says

The wife and grandson of a man in respiratory failure watched an EMT pronounce him dead after dropping him from a gurney outside his Maine home, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Before Kenneth D. LaPorte, Sr. stopped breathing, the EMT who responded to his medical emergency forced him to walk an “unreasonable distance” to the ambulance parked outside his home at around 3 a.m. when he was “experiencing low oxygen levels” of around 74% on April 16, 2022, the lawsuit says.

Typical oxygen levels for a healthy person falls between 95% and 100%, according to Yale Medicine, which advises people to “seek immediate medical attention” when oxygen levels are 88% or lower.

Although LaPorte needed oxygen, he never received any, a complaint filed in August in Penobscot County Superior Court says. Since his oxygen tube was not long enough to reach the ambulance, the EMT disconnected it and never reconnected him to a portable oxygen supply, according to the complaint.

Then, the EMT placed LaPorte on a gurney — but never strapped him to it — before she went to get an oxygen tube, according to the complaint, which says as she untangled the oxygen tubing, LaPorte stopped breathing.

When the EMT lifted the gurney, LaPorte’s family watched him fall off, hit his head on the ambulance’s bumper and again on the ground, the complaint says.

After about 30 minutes of CPR, LaPorte was pronounced dead — with acute respiratory failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease listed as his cause of death, according to a complaint and copy of his death certificate.

Now Susan LaPorte, his wife of 53 years, and Ryan Pepin, his grandson, are suing the town of Medway over his death on several causes of action, including wrongful death and negligence.

They are seeking $2 million in damages.

The EMT worked for the Medway Ambulance Service, which the town is liable for and had discontinued shortly after LaPorte’s death, according to the complaint.

McClatchy News contacted the town for comment on Sept. 13 and didn’t receive an immediate response.

In a statement provided to the Bangor Daily News, which first reported the lawsuit on Sept. 11, the town denied the complaint’s accusations.

LaPorte, an Army and National Guard veteran who worked as an electrician for nearly 40 years before his retirement, was described as a “very humble man” who was “very proud of his family” in an obituary published by the Bangor Daily News.

Kenneth D. LaPorte Sr.’s obituary.
Kenneth D. LaPorte Sr.’s obituary.

Death could have been prevented, family says

After the Medway Ambulance Service arrived at LaPorte’s home, the ambulance’s driver brought a medical bag inside the house but the EMT wouldn’t use it, according to the complaint.

“I do not need the bag, take it back out,” the EMT told the driver, the complaint says.

The EMT is accused of failing to record LaPorte’s vital signs before having him walk to the ambulance while in respiratory distress, according to the complaint.

After dropping LaPorte from the ambulance gurney — and before the EMT initiated CPR — “there was no attempt by the (EMT) to return Kenneth back to the gurney,” according to the complaint, which says “CPR is more effective on a flat service (gurney), rather than on the earth.”

Since CPR was performed with LaPorte on the ground, he was left with a gash on the back of his head in addition to his face being “bruised, black and blue, and covered with dirt,” the complaint says.

According to the lawsuit, LaPorte’s death could have been prevented if the EMT had followed proper EMT rules and regulations.

As a result of his death, his family has “suffered loss of consortium, society and companionship,” the complaint says.

In addition to his wife, LaPorte is survived by three children, 12 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, four siblings, and “many nieces, nephews, and cousins,” his obituary says.

Medway is about 135 miles northeast of Augusta.

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