2011-01-26 / Front Page

Corona Blizzard Victim Family Files $20M Lawsuit

 The family of a 75-year-old woman who died while waiting for an ambulance during last month’s blizzard is suing the city for $20 million, charging unplowed streets kept emergency responders from reaching the woman.

Attorney Sanford Rubenstein last week notified the city of his intention to sue for $20 million for the death of Yvonne Freeman who has since become the first blizzard related wrongful death suit.

The lawsuit accuses Sanitation, Transportation and first responder agencies of negligence and accuses the city of failing to declare a snow emergency at the onset of the storm.

Sanford said the streets were impassible and the NYPD an FDNY failed to “properly maintain and update the 911 system”.

Laura Freeman, daughter of the victim, said she tried unsuccessfully at the height of the storm to reach a 911 operator as her mother struggled to breathe.

Rubenstein told reporters at a press conference last week, “We allege negligence on behalf of multiple city agencies caused this wrongful death.”

Freeman said her mother woke her at 8 a.m. on December 27 complaining she was having trouble breathing. 

When she was unable to get through to a 911 operator for 45 minutes, Freeman called her brother and a cousin and asked them to call 911 as well. Freeman said when her mother’s condition worsened she ran outside their Corona home and started screaming at neighbors, asking them to try 911.

Emergency responders, trapped by the snow and unplowed streets, made it to the home at about 11 a.m., but it was too late. Yvonne Freeman passed away while waiting for the responders to arrive.

Officials at the City Law Department refused to comment on the ongoing litigation.

–Liz Goff


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