Many things these days just aren’t as simple as they used to be. A case in point is a pending lawsuit over a Phoenix rescue that didn’t go as planned.
In June, a 74-year-old woman was injured while hiking on Piestewa Peak. Katalin Metro was in a helicopter basket that began spinning out of control. Now her attorney has served a notice of claim, which precedes a lawsuit when a government entity is involved, for $2 million, according to The Arizona Republic.
Recordings of the incident, which were made by television stations, went viral on the internet. Reasons for the malfunction were listed as wind from the helicopter rotor, the ground below and centrifugal force. There also was a problem with a line, part of the crew’s equipment.
The claim is for physical, emotional and psychological injuries and “loss of consortium” by her husband, a common claim for spouses in personal injury cases.
The claim alleges, among other things, that the helicopter rescue exceeded the needs of the situation, which she reportedly stated to rescuers at the time. It is quite possible that first responders sometimes are too aggressive in the way they handle situations. However, governmental entities often are sued when injuries occur, partially because they have deep pockets. Sometimes those suits are for alleged insufficient responses.
Physical injuries are alleged although they were not reported at the time, and Metro has been treated for emotional ones as well. She alleges that she “feared for her life,” which is understandable.
In earlier days, such a rescue could not have been attempted. Many patients saved by helicopter now would not have survived. City rescuers also were in much shorter supply. Most victims of hiking accidents, if they recovered, would not have thought of suing.
After this incident, procedures no doubt were reviewed and the city has sought ways to limit its liability. Of course, city taxpayers foot the bill for insurance that settles such claims. Alas, mistakes — and claims — are part of the cost of doing business for tax-funded entities.