The shopping that goes along with the holiday season always reminds me of a case I had versus Macy’s. This is a true story:
My client, Cathy – age 55 (not her real name) worked as a sales associate at Macy’s. The Macy’s store manager could see that something was wrong with Cathy when a customer became extremely frustrated with Cathy’s unwillingness to answer a question. The manager asked Cathy what was wrong and she looked like she was trying to respond but could not get words out. Cathy seemed very frustrated by this. So, the manager took her into her office, thinking that Cathy was angry or upset and hoping to calm her down. About an hour went by and Cathy still would not speak. The manager looked for emergency contacts in Cathy’s personnel file and found that this information was missing. The manager then looked in Cathy’s purse, found a book with phone numbers, and was able to reach one of Cathy’s friends who agreed to come to the Macy’s store. When the friend arrived, now several hours later, she said to the manager, “Can’t you see my friend has had a stroke!”
The manager’s delay caused Cathy to be unable to receive tPA , a powerful clot busting medication which must be given within 3 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. The delay rendered Cathy permanently impaired, both physically and cognitively, requiring that Cathy spend the remainder of her life in a nursing home.
There are rules that govern workplace safety. Most employees in the nation are protected by the rules OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) enacts and enforces. One of the rules specifies that “in the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in or near proximity to the workplace which is used for treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained in first aid.” OSHA defines near proximity as a 4-5 minute drive.
Neither the manager nor any employee working at Macy’s that day was trained in first aid. There was a hospital within a 4-5 minute drive, but 911 was never called. Macy’s did not have in place a procedure for its employees to follow in such an instance, so the manager was left to do what the manager thought was right. The manager reasoned that Cathy was upset or angry and would have been embarrassed if she had called 911. It was Macy’s, and it was their failure to have in place rules to handle a potential emergency situation that caused Cathy to lose the life she had known.
Does your employer have an emergency response plan in place? Do you know what it is?
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured including due to medical mistakes. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and on the board for the Philadelphia VIP. Tony is a Nationally Certified Civil Trial Advocate, AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbel and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2015.