William Yurek, a 48-year-old man who tragically died of a heart attack in 2021, will receive a $1.86 million settlement from the city of Seattle. The payment follows a lawsuit filed by his family, asserting that Yurek’s death was caused by a caution note attached to his address, which delayed the response of medics.
Yurek’s demise occurred in his townhouse after his son made a 911 call. When Seattle Fire Department medics arrived, they initially waited outside for law enforcement, as instructed by the caution note. The family contended that Yurek was wrongly placed on a blacklist of individuals known to be hostile to police and fire crews. Yurek had lived in the unit for a couple of years before his passing, and the outdated list contained the previous tenant’s information.
The lawsuit stated that medics were instructed to wait for a police escort, which further delayed Yurek’s access to medical attention. As his condition deteriorated, Yurek’s then 13-year-old son made another 911 call and was assured that help was on the way, despite the fact that medics were already present. Eventually, the medics decided to enter the home without police assistance, but unfortunately, Yurek could not be saved.
Mark Lindquist, the family’s attorney, expressed gratitude for the medics who had gone against protocol to attempt to save Yurek’s life. Lindquist stated that once inside, the medics had done everything within their power to help.
In response to the incident, the city of Seattle has revised its operating guidelines concerning caution notes. These notes now expire after 365 days or undergo a review and renewal process. Additionally, any notes indicating a need for Seattle Police Department assistance due to alleged violent or threatening behavior are to be verified after each dispatched alarm to the address.
Lindquist pointed out that relying solely on addresses for such determinations can put renters and frequent movers at greater risk.
Seattle had previously agreed to a $162,500 settlement in August with a former 911 call center manager who alleged wrongful punishment for raising concerns about workplace issues, including the dispatch practice involving the blacklist.
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A medical doctor confirmed that without the delay caused by the caution note, Yurek would have had a 25% chance of survival. Lindquist emphasized that the family’s primary goal was for the city to take responsibility, which has now been achieved.