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Lawsuit over child's brain death

'He will never recover' after STARS flight

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Morgan Moar-Campbell

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Morgan Moar-Campbell

Parents of a toddler left brain-damaged after a STARS ambulance flight have filed a lawsuit against the STARS service, one of its flight nurses, a paramedic and a doctor who treated the boy.

Parents Emily Moar and Blair Campbell do not state how much money they are seeking through the courts in a statement of claim filed Wednesday with the Court of Queen's Bench.

But it's likely to be a multimillion-dollar suit because the court documents states the couple intend to present an "in-trust" claim. It will make a case for the loss of their own incomes, their son's earning power over his lifetime and the cost of his medical care for the rest of his life, the claim states.

The couple's lawyer, Robert Tapper, said the lawsuit is probably going to run into the "high seven figures."

The allegations have not been proven in court. A statement of defence has yet to be filed.

"STARS has not yet received the statement of claim and when we do, we'll review it in detail," STARS national spokesman Cam Heke said Wednesday. "STARS' communication has been directly with the family."

The suit stemmed from an ambulance flight in May that had tragic consequences.

Morgan Moar-Campbell, 2, was flown from Brandon to Winnipeg aboard a STARS helicopter May 2 for tests following a seizure.

Doctors at the Brandon Regional Health Centre put Morgan into an induced coma, which meant he couldn't breathe on his own, requiring the insertion of a breathing tube. That tube was discovered pulled out after the helicopter landed in Winnipeg, the parents said in May.

His parents were told their son was deprived of oxygen for 30 minutes and the only part of his brain still working was the brain stem, which regulates basic functions.

In a statement of claim, the boy's parents recounted the same story in legal jargon.

"When the flight to Winnipeg was coming to a conclusion, the intubation device installed in (Morgan's) throat dislodged and oxygen was no long being delivered in him. This went unnoticed and not attended by any of the defendants for several minutes, result in significant brain damage," the statement said.

"Morgan has suffered irreparable brain damage from which he will never recover; (he) is forever disabled, will never earn an income and will need constant care for his upkeep for the remainder of his life," the court documents state.

In addition to the STARS service itself, the claim names emergency doctor Shane Mutz and nurse Gail-Janet Thomson and paramedic Elizabeth Speers. Both the nurse and paramedic live in Brandon. The doctor is listed in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba as currently practising in Winnipeg.

Manitoba Health opened a critical-incident investigation into the case after the incident became public.

Based in Alberta, STARS is a private nonprofit air ambulance that relies on private donations, corporate sponsorships and government contracts.

Manitoba first made use of STARS during the 2009 flood and again in 2012. The province updated its 10-year contract with STARS in April to provide 24/7 coverage.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2013 A7

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