One aspect of the dramatic case
against American Medical Response, an ambulance company that serves Portland, reached a conclusion this morning.
A Multnomah County Circuit Court jury awarded Royshekka Herring $2.25 million
stemming from allegations Lannie Haszard sexually assaulted her while she was being transported in an AMR ambulance. Haszard was acting as an EMT. (He is currently in prison on sexual assault charges.)
On Friday, Greg Kafoury, the plaintiff's attorney, told the jury during closing arguments that this case was about "corporate responsibility"
and that AMR had the power to fire Haszard. There were three previous sexual-assault accusations from women against Haszard before he assaulted Herring in December 2007. Some of those women were present in the courtroom
listening to the closing arguments.
Paula Price was one of them. She filed a report with Portland Police alleging she had been molested by Haszard as well. After police learned of Herring's own allegation against Haszard, police pulled Price's report and arrested Haszard. "If Paula Price made her report to AMR instead of the police, would Haszard be in jail?"
Kafoury told the jury they "set the standard" for the community's response to how corporations behave.
He also said there were "two smoking guns in this case." The first, he said, is that Haszard had three complaints against him in 14 months
while working for AMR and he continued to keep his job. The other is that AMR kept information about previous accusations that had been reported to them from police.
AMR serves the greater Portland area. "When you call 911, that's who you're going to get," said Kafoury.
AMR's attorney, James Dumas, said in his closing argument that Haszard "is a master of deception"
and that he fooled every single person whom he worked with at AMR. He urged that "AMR Northwest is also a victim" and that they, too, were abused by Haszard.
On Friday Sept. 4, 2009, before the closing arguments resonated throughout the crowded court room, Judge Judith Matarazzo approved dropping a separate battery charge against AMR. The charge of negligence stayed intact.
The 12-person jury will reconvene Thursday to decide if AMR will be responsible for paying punitive damages also.