The city of Seattle has agreed to pay nearly $2 million to the family of a man who died after medics waited to enter his home because his apartment was marked with an outdated “caution note,” according to the family’s attorney.
William Yurek died in November 2021 at age 46 after his then 13-year-old son called 911 twice in 13 minutes, according to a lawsuit filed by Yurek’s family in December accusing the city of negligence.
Although Seattle Fire Department medics got to the residence about six minutes after the first call, they waited to enter because Yurek was wrongly included on a”so-called blacklist” of people who had a history of hostility toward first responders, the family’s lawsuit alleged. Yurek’s residence was marked with a “caution note” because a previous tenant had been put on the list, the lawsuit added.
The lawsuit was settled Monday for $1.86 million, according to the family’s attorney, Mark Lindquist.
Medics initially waited outside for Seattle police to arrive, but decided to enter the home without a police escort about six minutes after the son’s second call that his father’s condition was worsening, according to the lawsuit.
During that second 911 call, the operator told the teenager that help was on the way when, in reality, medics already were at the residence waiting to go inside, according to the lawsuit. The operator did not advise Yurek’s son to administer CPR, the lawsuit alleged.
When medics eventually chose to enter the apartment without a police escort, about 20 minutes had passed since the initial 911 call. Yurek died of cardiac arrest in front of his son despite the medics’ treatment, according to the lawsuit.
“Once inside, medics did everything they could to save Will’s life,” Lindquist said in a news release shared with CNN. “The family has always been grateful to the medics who broke protocol to go in and do their best.”
The Seattle city attorney’s office made major changes to its caution note system, the office told CNN affiliate KING.
“The operating guidelines on caution notes, which were modified prior to the settlement, were changed to provide that caution notes about people, activities and materials expire after 365 days in the system or get reviewed and renewed,” a statement from the office to KING reads.
“Additionally, caution notes about the need for (Seattle police) assistance due to violent or threatening behavior are to be verified after every alarm dispatched to the address. Lastly, a caution note is to be removed if the occupant no longer lives at the address,” the statement reads.
Lindquist told CNN it wasn’t until he began looking into what caused the medics’ delay in entering Yurek’s home that he learned of the city’s police escort requirements for residents with caution notes.
CNN’s attempts to contact a spokesperson for the Seattle city attorney were not immediately successful.