Wrongful death lawsuit against KCFD1 approved to move to trial

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore.- The lawsuit a Klamath County family filed against Klamath County Fire District 1 has been approved to move to trial.

On December 26, 2020 two paramedics from KCFD1 allegedly refused to take a woman to the hospital when she was having trouble breathing. That woman was Teresa Vaughn, who was Covid positive at the time of the incident.

According to Kirk Mylander, Attorney for the Vaughn family, EMTs Cody Engler and Alex Dustin allegedly didn’t check Teresa’s vital signs, heart rate, blood pressure, or listen to her lungs.

“They didn’t even bring their medical instruments into the apartment and that is not disputed,” Mylander said, “they were left outside the entire time.”

Vivian Kimbol, Teresa’s partner who was present that day, says Engler asked her to drive Teresa to the hospital, so she did. Kimbol says she was frustrated and confused on why they asked her to drive Teresa.

“I wouldn’t have even called [the paramedics] if I was going to take her to the hospital,” Kimbol said, “I thought she needed an ambulance to get to the hospital.”

Mylander says Teresa did not give up her right to be driven in the ambulance.

Unfortunately, Teresa died later that day after having a cardiac event in Kimbol’s car.

The emergency care physicians, they were able to revive her multiple times, Mylander said. They would get her heart started, but then her brain, because it was not functioning, couldn’t, like, keep the heartbeat going.

“That was really hard on everybody because this was so unexpected,” Teresa’s sister Debra Blank said.

While some of the claims the Vaughn family filed have been cut by Federal Judge Mark D. Clarke, he ruled that the claims against Engler and Dustin must face a jury trial. The charges KCFD1 will face include wrongful death, gross negligence and violating Teresa’s 14th amendment rights.

Mylander says while this case is civil, he and the Vaughn family are hoping the DA will pick it up.

“We would like it if the District Attorney would review it, but we don’t know that he has,” Mylander said. “There are multiple cases where paramedics have been charged with crimes, in part because they showed up and did nothing.”

Mylander says the Vaughn family would be willing to settle the civil case if the fire district fired Engler and Dustin and did a full review and retraining, but he says KCFD1 refuses that proposition.

Blank says they just want Teresa’s story to be heard.

Ter was a kind, caring, loving and giving person. She was my best friend. We just want justice for my sister and if this is what we have to do to get it, that’s what were going to do.

NBC5 News reached out to KCFD1 Attorney Luke Reese. He says they have no comment on the lawsuit at this time.

Mylander says a trial date has not been set yet.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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