Family Files Wrongful Death Suit Against City For Blizzard Death

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/CBS 2) – It took emergency crews hours to reach an elderly woman because of the blizzard that paralyzed roads, and she died while waiting for help.

Now, her family wants the city to pay, filing a wrongful death lawsuit, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

In the immediate aftermath of the blizzard, Laura Freeman said she had to watch her 75-year-old mother die in front of her. For nearly three hours after the storm, Freeman says, the 911 system failed.

“She said, ‘Laura, if I don’t get to speak to you again, goodbye Laura,’” Freeman said. “I don’t know why she didn’t say, ‘I love you.’”

WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond gets details from the family.

Freeman knows her mother loved her, but she still feels guilt, second-guessing her decision to run outside to try to stop strangers with cell phones.

“Maybe I should’ve held her while she died, but instead I ran out,” Freeman said. “It kills me because I go, ‘why did I run out?’ – because it really didn’t make a difference.”

Flanked by Freeman and her brothers, Jim and John, the Freeman family attorney, Sanford Rubinstein, filed a $20 million claim Wednesday against the city.

“Yvonne Freeman’s daughter was unable to reach a 911 operator as her mother gasped for breath,” Rubinstein said. “All she got on the other side of the phone was a recorded message, and a buzzing tone that sounded like a fax machine.”

New York City’s Law Department released only the following brief statement: “This involves a tragic situation, and we’ll await the legal papers.”

Freeman said she’s bringing the suit against the city so a similar tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Freeman said the house in Corona, Queens where she lived with her mother is too empty now, with too many reminders of that tragic day.

The claim is the first of what’s expected to be many blizzard-related wrongful death suits against the city.

More from Marla Diamond
  • Laura Sandoval

    I’m really tired of these people trying to make money at the taxpayers expense. Instead of suing the city why is it she doesn’t demand the people responsible for this whole mess lose job. It’s all about money not accountability.

  • Elliot

    Too bad the ambulance was not as fast getting there as the ambulance-chasing lawyers.

  • JR

    I am not a supporter of most lawsuits, but I support this, however, the mayor and the people responsible should have to pay from their own pockets, not taxpayers, as will and does happen. Thisi is why they do not care, it is not their money. When it is their money and they are help personally responsible, then and only then will you see change.

  • TG

    Ok – I feel badly for the loss this family has experience, but Jeez – did they file the law suit before they even buried the mom? Also $20M???? Come on!!

  • Lady D

    IT is truly heartbreaking and will always haunt her forever. She deserves every cent she gets.

  • Trish

    I am so sorry for the lost to the family. Her daughter is now dealing with the passing of her mother and guilt. I hope that with time she will realize that it’s not her fault and she did all she could have done.
    However, and I am sorry to say, I am not responsible for this tragic event and neither are the citizens of this city. The reality is that lawsuits of such absurd amounts cost us individually via taxes and other hike up costs. People need to realize that even the cost to settle is passed to the citizens.

  • Kim

    It is entirely the Mayor’s fault for not being on the scene. God Bless this family and I am very sorry for their loss.
    The Mayor could care less about the people who live here and he shows it every chance he gets. Time to leave Mayor Mike.
    You bought your 3rd term- bad karma my freind
    Bring back Rudy. This would never have happened.

  • bush

    Bloomberg should have to pay these out of his own, very wealthy, pocket.

    • CT

      Unfortunately, I think it’ll be the city’s money – mostly likely our tax money.

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