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01/10/2014
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
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Alba makes county pay for infant’s death

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Alba makes county pay for infant’s death

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Gil Alba recently successfully recovered a monetary award for the family of a deceased child against Columbia County Florida after an almost ten-year fight for justice.  Mr. Alba overcame enormous obstacles including an appeal to the First District Court of Appeals of Florida and an aggressive defense by the county.  Finally, after fighting the County’s delay and Mr. Alba’s successful appeal, the county finally began settlement negotiations when they had never before offered to make any payment for the life of this small child.

On November 17, 2007, Columbia County Emergency Medical Services (“EMS”) received a 911 call that an eleven-month-old child was having difficulty breathing.  EMS responded on scene, and – according to EMS records – examined the child’s vital signs, which were normal.  About 50 minutes after EMS left, EMS received a second 911 call reporting that the child was not breathing.  When EMS arrived, the child was blue, cold to the touch, and without a pulse.  After being transported to the hospital, the child was pronounced dead. The child’s mother retained Mr. Alba who filed a complaint against Columbia County, alleging the negligence of the county or its employees resulted in her child’s death.

Dr. David Tulsiak, testified in deposition that EMS breached the standard of care during the response to the first 911 call by failing to transport the child to the hospital.  Dr. Tulsiak concluded that the child was in respiratory distress at the time of the first call based, in part, on the child’s respiratory arrest within an hour of the first call.  Further, Mr. Alba was able to cast serious doubt on the veracity of the EMS’ assertion that they had conducted any actual examination of the child.

Columbia County filed a motion to exclude Dr. Tulsiak’s testimony on grounds it was insufficiently reliable and relevant under the, new to Florida, Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert opinion. See § 90.702, Fla. Stat.  The trial court granted the motion and ruled Dr. Tulsiak’s testimony was inadmissible.

Mr. Alba appealed the ruling.  The issue in the case was whether the trial court erred by excluding Dr. Tulsiak’s testimony.  After oral arguments at the University of Florida Levin College of Law before the three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeals, the court unanimously reversed the trial court and ruled that Dr. Tulsiak’s testimony should not have been excluded.  The case was one of the first cases to test Florida’s application of the federal Daubert standard and a huge success for Florida plaintiffs, especially those harmed by the malpractice of a physician or other professional.

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