In the News: A judge in Pennsylvania must decide if a lawsuit against Luzerne County can proceed in federal court after an attorney sued and argued that Luzerne County 911 violated the woman’s constitutional rights when it dispatched firefighters to the wrong address. The county says the constitution does not provide for a right to emergency services.

Any 911 system has a duty to send resources to the correct location. It is a duty the agency accepted when the 911 system was created and citizens were told to call 911 in case of emergency. When the 911 operator sends resources to the wrong address, the duty is breached; that seems pretty clear.

The real legal fight will likely be over whether sending the resources to the wrong address was both the actual and proximate cause of the death.

A quick look based only on the news report would strongly suggest that. But for the 911 operator who sent the resources to the wrong place, the death would not have occurred as, how, and when it did, thus the county would be an actual cause of death, which is a legal determination for negligence. But we don’t know this for sure, do we?

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