Nathan Clark defended an air medical transport service sued in connection with the death of a patient—an 18-year old woman– being transported by helicopter. It was alleged an EMT intubated the patient too deeply, causing lack of oxygenation in a patient whose lungs already were severely compromised. It was charted that the intubation was, indeed, too deep. The patient suffered from a chronic lung condition that suddenly progressed beyond the ability of a rural hospital to provide effective care—thus, an EMT was asked to provide a level of medical care beyond that available from doctors in an actual hospital. Complicating matters, the transport was at night. This required the EMT to provide treatment in total darkness, with the aid of bulky night vision goggles, because to use any sort of normal lights would blind the pilots and endanger the aircraft. Three other sets of Defendants (for a total of eight Defendants) faced varying claims as to how their care and treatment of Ms. Johnston resulted in her death.
Despite apparent admitted liability through the charting of a too-deep intubation, we chose to contest liability under applicable standard of care and causation. Jury trial ran two weeks. Although the case was filed in the District Court of Cleveland County, the trial was held in the instructional courtroom at the University of Oklahoma Law School. The jury agreed with our argument that an emergent standard of care differs from that of a standard of care applied in a traditional hospital setting, leading to a complete defense verdict. The verdict was affirmed on appeal.