Court: No Suit Over Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead

Panel says family of Timesha Beauchamp, who did eventually die, can't file complaint against EMTs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2020 2:29 PM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2023 10:59 AM CDT
Woman Found Alive at Funeral Home Dies 8 Week Later
This family photo provided by Erica Lattimore through Fieger Law shows her daughter, Timesha Beauchamp with her brother Steven Thompson in Southfield, Mich.   (Courtesy Erica Lattimore through Fieger Law via AP)
UPDATE Jul 28, 2023 10:59 AM CDT

The family of a Michigan woman who was erroneously declared dead in 2020, then declared dead for real eight weeks later, tried to sue the city of Southfield and four first responders whose bad judgment, they say, contributed to Timesha Beauchamp's demise from a brain injury. Her family says the paramedics and EMTs violated her 14th Amendment rights to due process, per Law & Crime. On Wednesday, however, a three-judge federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled the civil complaint can't be brought, noting it wasn't shown that the first responders violated Beauchamp's constitutional rights, therefore entitling them to qualified immunity protections offered to government workers. An attorney for the city of Southfield said the first responders, who initially had their medical licenses suspended in the aftermath of the incident, have since been reinstated, reports the Washington Post.

Oct 20, 2020 2:29 PM CDT

A 20-year-old Michigan woman found alive in a funeral home in August after being wrongly declared dead is now genuinely dead—and her relatives blame the earlier mistake for her demise. Family attorney Geoffrey Fieger said Southfield resident Timesha Beauchamp "was allowed to die peacefully" Sunday at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, WDIV reports. Beauchamp, who had cerebral palsy, "died as a result of massive brain damage that was suffered when Southfield paramedics wrongly declared her dead and failed to provide her much needed oxygen," Fieger said. "Instead, she was sent to a funeral home which then discovered that her eyes were open, and that she was alive."

Beauchamp had been hospitalized since she was found alive. "This is the second time our beloved Timesha has been pronounced dead—but this time she isn't coming back," her family said in a statement. On Aug. 23, Beauchamp's family called 911 because she was having trouble breathing. The Southfield Fire Department said that after four paramedics spent 30 minutes trying to revive her, an emergency room physician declared her dead based on information provided over the phone, the New York Times reports. Hours later, she was found alive when a funeral home worker preparing to embalm her unzipped the body bag. The family is suing the city and the four paramedics for $50 million. (More Michigan stories.)

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