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Carpentersville Lawsuit

September 24, 2007
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Last Thursday, Gloria Lopez filed a lawsuit against the Village of Carpentersville.  The complaint alleges that anti-immigration sentiment by the village had lead to the failure of paramedics taking her baby to the hospital.  Her baby now suffers from brain damage.  The complaint can be found here, as well as another perspective to the issues by Carpentersville Action Network where you can find up to date information of the ongoing debates.

Some of you may want to go back and read  my first post to this blog The Immigration Debate: Carpentersville, IL Setting Its Stage for some background and to see just how passionate the different sides can get in regards to this issue.  While the incident took place on September 18, 2006, before the Illegal Alien Immigration Relief Act was actually brought before the Carpentersville board of trustees, the issue certainly was allready being discussed and heatedly being debated during the same period.  This September 28, 2006 article is pretty damning when it comes to one village trustees sentiment in regard to illegal immigrants:

“It’s not about race. It’s about illegal aliens. It’s about overcrowding in homes. It’s about the rising cost in medical and education,” said Village Trustee Judith Sigwalt. “It’s as plain as the nose on our faces. You know the law is the law.”

It goes even further than that as you can see here:

Sarto said the incident allegedly occurred around the time trustees began debating what to do with $250,000 in unpaid municipal ambulance bills and whether these calls involved illegal immigrants.

“I remember seeing Hispanic names on that list and Anglo names,” Sarto said. “We wrote off the bills.”

So here we sit a year later and while Carpentersville has not enacted the ordinance it is still being debated and part of the ordinance which makes English the official language of Carpentersville has actually been made an ordinance.  We also now have a brain damaged child and we have to ask ourselves if this anti-illegal immigration sentiment by the village is the cause for this child’s brain damage.  Moreso, we have to ask ourselves as a nation – regardless of where we stand on this issue – is this acceptable?  Is brain damage an acceptable effect – an effect to an innocent child who had no choice of crossing the border (and btw – we don’t even know that his family is illegal).

I’d really like to hear from those that support the illegal alien ordinances that have been going up around the country:  Let’s for one moment say that this truely is caused by these sentiments, let’s put aside the let’s see what happens and just say that it is – is it worth it?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2007 3:34 pm

    I support any ordinance or law or statute that benefits our common humanity, without excluding anyone regardless of race, creed, color, religion, nationality or immigration status.

    People first!

    Ya Haqq!

  2. anonymous permalink
    September 29, 2007 2:27 am

    Let’s not for one moment say this is true – because to say that it is true is to say that ALL or MOST paramedics are capable of such an unspeakable detachment from humanity. They all see the same thing – they all train the same way – and they are all controlled by a hospital, not a village. Regardless of whom they work for, their actions in the field are entirely governed and controlled by a Doctor in a hospital. That doctor doesn’t like how they do their job – he pulls their license, they lose their job and their ability to work. To suggest this is true is to suggest that NOBODY should ever dial 9-1-1 because the likelihood of getting a medic that is capable of this is almost a certainty.

    Let’s instead focus the debate on what is more likely to be true – nearly a year later, a suit is filed in federal court – what took so long? Or, was another suit filed sooner that nobody is talking about – and why not? Was it that these same medics were questioned and found to have acted within their scope of practice, and therefore not negligent? After all, the hospital that controls these medics actually does look at EVERY single report that they write. Every resource hospital has an entire staff devoted to EMS, and the do quality control on every call, and are especially thorough when there are critical calls such as these. I guarantee a review was done on this call …

    So, is it that some anti-illegal sentiment prevailed with this one call out of 3000+ that year? OR, is it possible that this sick child had an illness that had been diagnosed prior to the call, was given medication and it had been administered wrong or not at all- and that the first call of that day the paramedics witnessed what any other reasonable person might view as a child who simply vomited after a meal – with no obvious signs of distress? Seeing as how nobody has seen the medic’s reports from that day, how do we really know. All we’ve been told is that they allegedly saw a child in distress – and that’s coming from an attorney – not the mother. The mother simply stated that she didn’t know how her child could be healthy one day and not the next. Who here trusts attorney’s, especially ones that have a known history as an “ambulance chaser?” Is it not possible that this child’s condition simply deteriorated over the period of time from the first to the second call? And, in that case, who would be responsible? The medics? The mother who wouldn’t or couldn’t come home? The babysitter who agreed to the release and agreed to call them back if something got worse? And why was it that the babysitter didn’t check on the child for 3 hours?

    If we lay the blame at the medic’s door step, then what is the solution? Currently, anyone who is of sound mind can refuse treatment and/or transport to the hospital. And, in the case of minors, it is the discretion of their guardian or parents, as long as that person is of sound mind. So, do we leave the current system in place? Allow people of sound mind to continue to make decisions regarding the care for themselves or their children – even if it means that decision leads to dire consequences … or, do we instead say that everyone (and we have to say everyone to be fair) that calls 9-1-1 for an ambulance is going to the hospital regardless of their will or condition? Do we take away the right of the patients to decide and instead transport everyone JUST in case they might make a bad decision that leads to their or the child in their care’s illness or death?

    This lawsuit has had it’s intended effect already. It won’t go much further, as it’s highly doubtful the plaintiff can prove their case. This suit was intended to bring forward a debate about illegal immigration. It was designed tell Carpentersville to drop the issue. And the original poster of this particular debate proved that eloquently. We say it’s about the child in this case – but it’s really about the concept of illegal immigration. This poor child is being used in the most disgusting of manners – and the addition of his picture, all over the news and even here on this site only drives home the fact that it’s about a political issue – not about the child himself. His picture is shock value – designed to give people an emotional attachment to the political issue. Like the paramedics that were named in both the news and the suit – that child is a pawn for a larger political statement. And of all things related to this – that is the most shameful. Illegal immigration isn’t an issue to be decided by the local governments – nor is it an issue to use a sick child for.

    Just my thoughts. Thank you for letting me express them.

  3. September 29, 2007 4:34 am

    Anonymous – no need for thanking me in regards to expressing your thoughts.

    You appeal to us to not for one moment say this is true but I’m sorry .. I can’t. To do so would be for me to put on some rose colored glasses and pretend that everything is a-okay – when it is not. Racism and bigotry EXIST and unfortunately the sad reality is that racism and bigotry do not exclude themselves from certain work related fields. Just because these individuals are EMTs does not mean that they can not possibly be free of any racism or bigotry or that we need cast them as angels. They are human just like the rest of us and hence prone to human nature just like you and me.

    Now, all that being said – I’m as well not saying that these two paramedics are bigoted and racist – all I am asking is if this be the case and even if it is not – it is quite possible through the agenda of a few Carpentersville trustees that an atmosphere could be created in which cases like these could become the norm – what I am asking is – is this worth it? Is human welfare and life that meaningless?

    Next – you ask that we instead focus on the debate which is more likely true – what took so long? I don’t know about the baby’s parents, but if it were me – my first concern would be my child’s health. Secondly – you yourself brought about the attention that this case is getting – maybe the parents didn’t want that. Maybe they waited and hoped the baby would improve. Maybe and we don’t know yet – maybe they are illegal and to do such puts them in jeopardy. There are many possible reasons.

    Now – most of the rest of what you are saying is really far-fetched – unless you are privy to something that I do not know about in terms of there being another lawsuit – there being an investigation.

    The complaint states that the caregiver called 9-1-1 reporting that the child was ill and included difficulty breathing and seizure symptoms – that we know is on the complaint. How does a child not go into the hospital with these symptoms being reported? How?

    Secondly – the EMTs were employed by The Village of Carpentersville fire department. They are employees of the village and not the hospital.

    Now take this into account again:

    “Sarto said the incident allegedly occurred around the time trustees began debating what to do with $250,000 in unpaid municipal ambulance bills and whether these calls involved illegal immigrants.

    “I remember seeing Hispanic names on that list and Anglo names,” Sarto said. “We wrote off the bills.””

    and this again:

    ““It’s not about race. It’s about illegal aliens. It’s about overcrowding in homes. It’s about the rising cost in medical and education,” said Village Trustee Judith Sigwalt. “It’s as plain as the nose on our faces. You know the law is the law.””

    Unfortunately – yes – it is about politics. This is about what a group of trustees who rallied on a racist, bigoted platform have done. This is about the absolute disregard for human life and what such a platform is capable of. This is about having to be accountable for your actions. This is about cause and effect. This could be the future of Carpentersville. And – yes – this is about this child as well and all the other hispanics – whether they be children or adults – may have to face in the future in Carpentersville.

    I spent a good amount of time advocating for human rights on my blog – human rights violations that take place outside of the US – and here I am today looking out my window at Carpentersville just absolutely disgusted at the injustices that go on in my own back yard. I can’t let this go – and yes – that pic will be on my site to remind everyone of the consequences that just could become the norm under such circumstances. It may just be that this case gets dropped or settled – but it is a harsh reality that this could actually happen because of ordinances against illegals.

    Funny – no one who backs these ordinances cared to say whether this outcome would be worth it.

    Maybe we can afterall learn something from this.

  4. anonymous permalink
    September 29, 2007 2:22 pm

    I think I can answer some of the more medical questions for you…

    “The complaint states that the caregiver called 9-1-1 reporting that the child was ill and included difficulty breathing and seizure symptoms – that we know is on the complaint. How does a child not go into the hospital with these symptoms being reported? How?”

    On the Carpentersville Action Network’s blog, I elluded to the answer to this question … but, first, we must question what difficulty breathing and seizure symptoms means. As I discussed the concept of distress on the other site (that being distress is a completely subjective concept) the fact is that all medical conditions being reported by a patient and/or caretaker are subjective in nature. Is it possible to think you are having a heart attack when in fact you are having a panic attack? Those who have experienced that would vouch for it’s authenticity. Is it possible to think you are having a heart attack when in fact you are have gall stones and are having a gall bladder attack? Is it possible for a child to vomit and cough and believe that the child is in distress? Absolutely – these are all subjective conditions and therefore cannot be qualified. Everyone will view these conditions differently, and I submit it’s why those specifics descriptions made it into the lawsuit. So the simple answer to the question is: the objective, physical findings of the paramedics, the subjective observations of the caretaker and the decision by the hospital indicated that the child was not sick enough to require an emergency transport to the hospital, and further, that the babysitter and the hospital both agreed that the child did not need transport.

    “Secondly – the EMTs were employed by The Village of Carpentersville fire department. They are employees of the village and not the hospital.”

    It is imperative to understand how Emergency Medical Services work in the state of illinois. It starts with the state department of public health, whom licenses and authorizes paramedics to seek entry into an EMS system. Each EMS system has a Primary Medical Director (PMD), who is a doctor. The PMD is the person responsible for maintaining a paramedic’s license. It is the sole discretion and authority that the licenses of a paramedic stays valid – and he/she can revoke the license of a paramedic at any time for any reason. Paramedics are not directly licensed – they are authorized to perform the skills they do and are an extension of the primary medical director’s MD license. Therefore, the PMD is ultimately responsible for the paramedics under his charge. I would recommend reading the Illinois Statutes on Emergency Medical Services, because it really does drive home this point – employers have very little say in how patients get treated. They can dictate how an ambulance gets to a call (routing, mapping, which paramedics go on which ambulances etc..) but, once at the call, the Hospital has direct control over the paramedics. The employer cannot under the law dictate how the paramedics function – that is the sole responsibility of the hospital. And to violate that is to waste years of education and training on the part of the paramedics.

    Let’s say for a moment that there was a policy like this – choice A. for the medics is to follow it – and violate the terms of their license. The PMD pulls the license and they are no longer paramedics, and cannot become paramedics again. They lose their job, and will NEVER find another job in the fire service. 3-4 years of education down the drain, thousands of dollars in expenses, a job that they love never able to go back, getting fired from a fire department, meaning it nearly impossible to find another decent paying job – Who again would want this? Choice B. violate the policy. Village fires the employee (which they can’t directly because the village has no say in firing a full time firefighter/paramedic – they are commissioned through a seperate entity that helps to alleviate the “politics” of the job) The paramedic’s license is still in tact, their firefighter credentials are still in good standing, and having been released for a reason like that can easily obtain another job in the fire service.

    I am relatively certain that when all the facts are out – from both sides, there will be alot of disallusioned people out there wondering how a mother and a lawyer could use a child in such a disgusting way.

    Turning towards the larger debate, from which this lawsuit stems however, and in answer to your question, NO, a brain damaged child should not be the result of any law or ordinance made by any government. To believe otherwise is to not be a human being.

    However, I would love to know where in these 2 ordinances (English as the official language and “punishing” business owners and landlords whom hire/rent to illegal immigrants) either of them discuss the limiting of Emergency Services (Fire, Ambulance or Police) to people whom are illegally here in this country. I don’t believe that anyone could show me that. Regardless of whether these ordinances are right or wrong, there isn’t anything on the books, or even unspoken saying that the paramedics are to deny service. Again – even if the village wanted to, they don’t have the legal authority or right to make that determination – only the hospital has that right under the law.

    And our village president was wrong to even open his mouth about unpaid ambulance bills in regards to this topic. Because the 2 are completely unrelated. He said that there were hispanic and anglo names on that list – go figure, 40% of the town is hispanic – ofcourse there will be hispanic names. But there were names from every “race, nationality or ethnicity” on that list. Does that make them all illegally here? Does that mean that only hispanic people are illegally here? What does that list of unpaid ambulance bills mean? He was wrong to discuss those bills in the context of this lawsuit, because the 2 really are unrelated. I am quite certain that there were far more legal resident’s names on that list than illegal ones. And, it’s part of the epidemic problem. We lump all these issues into one in order to make them seem more widespread and important. The issue with the bills is they were unpaid and the village, for whatever it’s reasons, didn’t want to try and pursue the matter through the court systems.

    And Mrs. Sigwalt’s commentary on the effects of illegal immigration in our town – how exactly does that effect emergency services? Contrary to the obviously popular belief, 10 hispanic people living in one home is not uncommon – and does not indicate that any of the family members are here illegally. I am pretty certain that the police and firefighters in this town understand that hispanic culture is different than our own, and that it is not uncommon to find extended family members living with each other. Hispanic people simply have a closer knit family structure than other nationalities are used to. It seems to me to be a rather big leap to assume that paramedics, firefighters and police officers, who are in the “trenches” every day, interacting with people from all parts of this village could get embroiled with politics that so clearly do not have any true reflection of reality. And perhaps i’m just an idealist, but I don’t think so.

    Lastly, I would ask what that picture is supposed to symbolize. If the lawsuit is true, I see the symbolism and correlation to plight of illegal immigrants, and the consequences that we all face as people when we allow this to happen. However, what if this suit isn’t true? What if this child’s illness was a direct result of something that the mother did – even if it was unintentional? What if the actions are found to have been consistent with that of any other paramedics and standards of care? What if the sad reality is that while nobody did anything “wrong” the circumstances just played out in a manner that nobody would have wanted – or been able to guess would happen at the time? Then what does this picture symbolize? A reminder that bad things happen to innocent people? But how could it remind us of that – when it’s been used to further a political gain. And if it’s sole purpose has been to further a political game – then how will you feel having used this picture in the same manner? Why not take it down until all the facts are out? Give this child the privacy and respect that he deserves.

  5. October 2, 2007 4:18 pm

    Anonymous-

    I have to start with the picture – I am not taking it down. The picture represents a lawsuit. Whether that lawsuit is justified or unjustified – the lawsuit represents what communities open themselves up to when they allow their trustees racism and bigotry to get in the way of what is in the best interest of the community. Trying to pass ordinances under the guise of “illegal is illegal” while stating:

    “Moreover, Humpfer and Sigwalt said that constituents had expressed dismay at the number of businesses in which the proprietors spoke only Spanish. “I’ve gone into the Polish deli and the German deli, and they’re so friendly,” Sigwalt said. “When I go into the Hispanic grocery store, I feel like an intruder; I feel unwelcome.” Humpfer added, “It’s gotten to a level where the number of illegals is so big, these stores can cater to only one culture.””

    Worse yet in the same article:

    “The charred socket has become a totem for Sigwalt and Humpfer, symbolizing all that they believe has gone awry in Carpentersville: overcrowded homes and schools, rising crime, blighted neighborhoods and residents who speak little or no English. (They complain about the public announcements in Spanish at the local Wal-Mart and Sears.) For them, it boils down to this: many Mexican immigrants are reluctant to adopt the American culture. “They want the American dream, but they don’t want to assimilate,” Sigwalt told me. “Immigrants are what made this country great, but the immigrants of yesterday and the immigrants of today are totally different people. They don’t have the love of this country in their hearts.””

    Both of those paragraphs show that this isn’t about “illegal immigration” rather it is about immigrants in general – legal or illegal. On top of that Humphry approves this flier:

    Are you tired of waiting to pay for your groceries while Illegal Aliens pay with food stamps and then go outside and get in a $40,000 car?

    Are you tired of paying taxes when Illegal Aliens pay NONE!

    Are you tired of reading that another Illegal Alien was arrested for drug dealing?

    Are you tired of having to punch 1 for English?

    Are you tired of seeing multiple families in our homes?

    Are you tired of not being able to use Carpenter Park on the weekend, because it is over run by Illegal Aliens?

    Are you tired of seeing the Mexican Flag flown above our Flag?

    If you are as tired as me then let’s get out and Vote for the: All American Team … Finally a team that will help us take back our town!

    It’s a sad day when a take-a-bat-to-your-wife’s-legs and a I’m-tired-of-pressing-one-for-English make up the all American team.

    And how is all of this relevent? Bottom line – it enabled a lawsuit that could force Carpentersville into bancrupcy. Whether we like it or not .. whether or not the claims are true – these trustees created an atmosphere where such a lawsuit could be filed. Please read this article from the NY times if you haven’t allready: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/magazine/05Immigration-t.html?pagewanted=1&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/I/Immigration%20and%20Refugees

    but back to the lawsuit:

    first – there must be 9-1-1 tapes that exist in regards to this call .. so I’m sure that we’ll get better insight into the matter when they are brought in as evidence.

    as for the emt employment – then maybe we should say that they are employed by both. the emts are still likely to be highly informed in regards to the ongoings of Carpentersville business or in this case illegal immigrant bias.

    answer me this though – can an emt be fired by the village of carpentersville. does the village pay their salary? does the village play any role in promoting them or demoting them?

    second – i am wondering why the hospital is not a part of a lawsuit. If the hospital knew the nature of the 9-1-1 call – I would imagine that the hospital would be part of a malpractice suit. Unless of course the signed waiver of treatment clears the hospital of any wrong doing. This is off Sherman Hospitals website:

    “You should go to an ER if you experience any of the following symptoms or need immediate medical attention: inability to breathe, chest pain, seizures, extensive wound and/or bleeding, loss of consciousness, poisoning or severe burns.”

    Also, as I recall – even when it is of the opinion of the emt that the child is fine – one still has the CHOICE to have the child transported to the ER. That’s been my experience. According to many articles – the caregiver signed a waiver of further treatment that was in English and that she had no idea what she was signing.

    I’m sure that the 9-1-1 department, the hospital and Carpentersville Fire Department all have proof of what was signed. The intial 9-1-1 call and an English only waiver will be all that’s necessary – as certain Carpentersville trustees seem to be dead set on vigilante politics – making history in the illegal-immigration debate – even wanting to move forward after the supreme court ruled the Hazleton PA case as unconstitutional.

    Quite honestly, I hope that it is a wrongful suit that has been filed. Nothing would please me more. I’m not hoping for a lynching of 2 EMTs that could very well be two innocent pawns in all of this. Regardless of that – the whole case represents something that could go terribly wrong in communities trying to pass ordinances against illegals. English only ordinances could make cases like these commonplace. An atmosphere such as the one in Carpentersville could cause fear amongst illegals which may keep them from seeking emergency services. It’s time to make this “All American Team” accountable for the atmosphere that has been created for creating a suitable environment for this lawsuit – especially after being warned that such could lead to lawsuits that insurance carriers would be able to get out of paying.

  6. November 3, 2007 1:29 am

    Lets see. (after that last post, it’s really hard to type from the laughter.😉

    My closing argument.

    An illegal alien was baby-sitting for a possible anchor-baby (term used by some politicians, to describe children born to illegal aliens, regardless of ethnicity, when on U.S. soil).

    Not experienced whatsoever in child-care, she panicked when the child simply spit up.

    Fact: Many babies spit up after eating due to overfeeding or because the valve that closes the upper part of the stomach is immature.

    http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/infant/infantproblems/spittingup.html

    There was nothing medically “wrong” with the child at the time of the first ambulance call, so the paramedics left.

    After leaving, the inexperienced baby-sitter continued to shove a bottle into the baby’s mouth in an attempt to “shut it up”. She fed the baby too much, and then threw him in a crib and let him “cry it out”.

    During the baby’s period of being “upset”, it vomited and choked. The baby-sitter went back to watching her non-english language soap opera.

    Upon the mother returning home, the baby was discovered to not have “fallen asleep”, as the baby-sitter thought, but in fact, choked, almost to death, on it’s own vomit while the babysitter watched television.

    The negligence of the inexperienced, illegal alien baby-sitter is to blame, not the firefighters who left the first time because nothing was medically wrong with the child.

    This story was concocted by some pro-illegal alien, personal injury, ambulance-chasing attorney, who heard of the story in an attempt to bring embarrassment and shame to a town who’s rightful citizens are speaking out louder and louder about crime, and costs it’s incurring because of the overwhelming amount of illegal aliens in it. (IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT ETHNICITY THEY ARE!)

    They’re banking on Carpentersville “settling out of court” because they know how squeamish the Village President gets when he hears the words “Law Suit”.

    The mother should be held equally as responsible, and both should be criminally charged with “neglect”.

    The baby should be turned over to DCFS and made a “ward of the state” (since we’re destine to pay for him anyway!), and the mother and baby-sitter should be turned over to ICE after they’re charged criminally, and put before a deportation judge in Chicago Federal Court.

    Then the attorney who made this whole story up, should be disbarred and banned from practicing law anywhere in the United States of America.

    How’s that for hypothetical, Samaha?😉

    My name is Perry Mason.

    (the sad part is, once this plays out as I’ve described, the media will simply drop it, rather than report the lies told by an attorney and it’s client, in a malicious attempt to ruin lives.)

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