One of the first in-person jury trials to take place after the COVID-19 shutdown began earlier this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center which has been retrofitted to accommodate socially distanced trials.
The lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff, Chantel Rose Giacalone, has been pending since 2015. Ms Giacalone, at the time a 27-year-old actress and model with a peanut allergy, suffered anaphylaxis after accidentally ingesting ice cream with a pretzel topping containing peanut butter while attending a MAGIC fashion convention at the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center on February 20, 2013. [See our report on the Giacalone tragedy from 2014.]
The suit alleges that after administering her own EpiPen, Ms Giacalone immediately visited the emergency services station staffed by Las Vegas-based ambulance company MedicWest Ambulance Inc., but that the EMTs only had intramuscular epinephrine on hand and lacked the equipment to quickly administer the lifesaving drug intravenously. Giacalone’s attorneys go on to argue that by the time they administered additional intramuscular epinephrine, her blood flow was already so restricted that the medication had little effect.
Ms Giacalone was transported to a nearby hospital where she was resuscitated, but by then she had suffered irreversible brain damage. Her attorneys assert that she will require 24-hour medical care for the rest of her life. Given her age, the damages could reach tens of millions of dollars.
MedicWest Ambulance Inc., defendants in the case, deny the allegations and say her condition did not warrant the use of intravenous epinephrine and that their staffers promptly called for transportation to the hospital, a claim Giacalone’s attorneys say are refuted by the phone records.
According to the Courtroom View Network, the complaint alleges:
Instead of timely calling for advanced life support services, the EMT personnel asked Plaintiff questions about going out and partying, and attempted to treat Plaintiff’s symptoms with a combination of Albuterol, oxygen, and medications, including intramuscular epinephrine. None of these treatment modalities were effective in opening Plaintiff’s constricted throat and protecting her airway to allow continuous oxygenation of her vital organs.
According to Giacalone’s attorneys, the Southern Nevada Health District requires EMT’s to keep intravenous epinephrine in their “jump bags” and that in addition to lacking the required equipment, the EMTs waited too long to call for an ambulance after seeing the severity of her condition.
The complaint states:
The MEDICWEST EMT personnel failed to appreciate Plaintiff’s condition or thatthe treatment modalities of oxygen, medications, and intramuscular epinephrine were ineffective; thus not administering the required intravenous epinephrine. As a result, Plaintiff ultimately suffered a severe hypoxic brain injury, which has rendered her completely disabled and unable to perform any activities of daily living. She is completely dependent on others for her care, and will likely remain so for the remainder of her life.
MedicWest counters that the EpiPen Ms Giacalone used prior to visiting the first-aid station was expired and that intravenous epinephrine wasn’t called for at the time because she was breathing and speaking in full full sentences when she arrived.
You can view gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial provided by the Courtroom View Network by clicking here.
Ms Giacalone is in our thoughts and we can only hope for miraculous improvement in her condition. We wish her and her family much strength in the coming days as the trial continues.