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A man died after an EMT stopped giving him oxygen and dropped him from an ambulance gurney, a lawsuit filed by a Maine family says.

A man died after an EMT stopped giving him oxygen and dropped him from an ambulance gurney, a lawsuit filed by a Maine family says.

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The wife and grandson of a man in respiratory failure saw 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 around 3 a.m. when he “experienced low oxygen levels” of about 74% at 16 April 2022, the lawsuit says.

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

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

Then the EMT placed LaPorte on a gurney — but never put him on it — before going to get an oxygen tube, according to the complaint, which says that when she untangled the oxygen tube, LaPorte stopped breathing.

As the EMT lifted the gurney, LaPorte’s family saw him fall, hit his head on the bumper of the ambulance and back 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 city of Medway for 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 city is responsible for, and quit shortly after LaPorte’s death, according to the complaint.

McClatchy News contacted the city for comment on Sept. 13 and did not receive an immediate response.

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

LaPorte, an Army and National Guard veteran who worked as an electrician for nearly 40 years before retiring, 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. Bangor Daily News

The death could have been prevented, the family says

After the Medway Ambulance Service arrived at LaPorte’s home, the ambulance driver brought a medical bag into the home, but the EMT would not use it, according to the complaint.

“I don’t need the bag, take it back,” the EMT told the driver, the complaint says.

The EMT is accused of failing to check LaPorte’s vital signs before running to the ambulance in respiratory distress, according to the complaint.

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

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

Medway is located about 135 kilometers northeast of Augusta.

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Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York. She is an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. She has previously written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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