Rosenbaum kin trade lawsuit for EMS reform

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Family members of journalist David E. Rosenbaum yesterday said they will drop their $20 million lawsuit against the District in exchange for the creation of a task force to examine ways to improve the city’s emergency medical services.

“We decided among ourselves, my family, that really we needed to do something about this for all the citizens of the District of Columbia,” said Marcus Rosenbaum, David Rosenbaum’s brother. “I think this settlement is going to lead to something good.”

The family filed a civil lawsuit in November against the District and Howard University Hospital, charging that a neglectful, botched emergency response and poor care by hospital workers contributed to Mr. Rosenbaum’s death.

The 63-year-old journalist was walking in his Northwest neighborhood on Jan. 6, 2006, when he was beaten and robbed by two men. He died two days later.

The lawsuit closely mirrored a report by thecity’s inspector general that cited an “unacceptable chain of failure” in the response. The report said police officers failed to recognize that a crime had occurred at the scene, firefighters assessed and treated Mr. Rosenbaum incorrectly, and hospital workers failed to properly triage Mr. Rosenbaum.

The settlement announced yesterday calls for the creation of a task force that will include D.C. officials, outside specialists and Mr. Rosenbaum’s son-in-law, Toby Halliday. The panel is required to issue a report within six months with recommendations for emergency medical services (EMS) improvements.

The family can reinstate the lawsuit within one year if they are not satisfied with the implementation of task force recommendations.

City officials will have to report to the family in nine months about Metropolitan Police Department progress in correcting problems regarding their response in the case.

“I hope that down the road people look back and feel that something productive has come out of this tragic event,” said Daniel Rosenbaum, Mr. Rosenbaum’s son and a photographer at The Washington Times. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens — if it does the good we’re hoping for.”

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty — who yesterday joined the Rosenbaum family and Attorney General Linda Singer at a press conference in Mr. Rosenbaum’s neighborhood to announce the settlement — called the compromise a necessary response to a “failure in government.”

“Clearly, many, many more changes need to be made,” Mr. Fenty said, standing steps away from a dogwood tree planted in Mr. Rosenbaum’s honor. “None of those changes will bring back David E. Rosenbaum, but we have an obligation to his family and to all of the residents of the District of Columbia to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

Mr. Fenty said that improving EMS is the top priority for incoming Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin, whose nomination was announced Wednesday.

The settlement does not address Howard University Hospital’s standing in the lawsuit. Patrick Regan, a lawyer representing the Rosenbaums in the case, said the lawsuit against the hospital is in the deposition phase.

The two men arrested in Mr. Rosenbaum’s slaying were sentenced in January. Percey Jordan Jr., 43, was sentenced to 65 years in prison after a jury found him guilty on nine counts, including first- and second-degree murder.

Jordan’s 24-year-old cousin, Michael C. Hamlin, had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the attack and testified against Jordan. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

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