Gibson Law Firm recently defeated a motion for summary judgment, filed by the Arkansas Municipal League on behalf of the City of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in a wrongful death lawsuit pending in Carroll County Circuit Court. The case involves the Estate of Laura Wooldridge, who died as a result of medical negligence committed by multiple parties, including employees of the City of Eureka Springs and Air Evac EMS, Inc. The City of Eureka Springs has a liability insurance policy, which under established Arkansas law would foreclose any claim of governmental immunity it may have. However, the mayor and city council members alleged and swore under oath in the city's motion that they had no knowledge of the existence of the policy and that former fire chief Rhys Williams obtained the policy without their knowledge or authorization. As such, they claimed that the policy should be voided and the city dismissed based on immunity. To make a long story short, the city attempted to back out of its own coverage in an attempt to be dismissed from a lawsuit. Who would be harmed by such an act? The innocent victim, who would have no recourse against the city.
Luckily, the city's assertion was quickly proven to be false. The policy had been in place for almost 20 years and had been renewed through at least three insurance companies. In addition, four fire chiefs and multiple mayors had renewed the policy and paid for it. Who had signed the checks renewing the policy for the past several years? Mayor Morris Pate, who had previously sworn, under oath and penalty of perjury, that he knew nothing about its existence. Discovery in this matter should be interesting, to say the least.
Based upon the foregoing, the court properly denied the motion for summary judgment. This tragic and horrible case has been reported on by the Lovely County Citizen, the local newspaper in Eureka Springs. Please read page 5 of the attached link.
The City all but threatens to tie the case up in appeals for years instead of allowing a Carroll County jury to hear the case and render a verdict. It does not even appear to deny its share of liability. This appears to be more what has become an all too common refrain of "deny, delay, defend" instead of a admission of a wrong that resulted in the ultimate loss. Laura should be here today, sending her children off to their first day of school. Instead, her children have no mother to wave goodbye to, and a hole has been placed in her family's heart forever.
Gibson Law Firm is committed to pursuing wrongdoers and will ultimately obtain justice in this case. Regardless of how long it takes, or whether the defendants attempt to delay through years of appeals, Gibson Law Firm will remain steadfast in seeking justice for all of those harmed by such a careless act.