(CN) – The town of Burleson, Texas, can be sued for failing to have a fully charged battery in its heart defibrillator, a Texas appeals court ruled.
Kevin Schronk called 911 to report that his wife, Helen, was having a heart attack. The battery in the defibrillator was too weak to deliver a sufficient shock to Helen’s heart. By the time another defibrillator was available, Helen was past the point of resuscitation.
Schronk and his son Dustin sued the city for negligence. They also sued the manufacturer of the device, Laerdal Medical Corp., for negligence in designing the machine and in training city employees to operate it.
The trial court ruled for the defendants, but Judge Reyna of the Waco-based appeals court reversed the decision.
Reyna relied on the testimony of Dr. Kenneth Desser, who testified that a working defibrillator would have given Helen a 51 percent chance of survival.
Reyna said a trial is necessary to determine whether the failure of the defibrillator caused Helen’s death.