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Update: Family and City settle dispute over burned baby out of court

Update: A local Rexburg family has settled their case against the City of Rexburg out of court after coming to an agreement in mediation.

The Porter Family met with leaders for the City of Rexburg and Madison County Fire Department Thursday to discuss the issue. Those leaders expressed their sadness that the family had to spend so many hours addressing the injury to baby Londyn. As part of the settlement of the case, it was decided to implement a new “Londyn Porter” policy in regards to the use of heat packs.

The policy will require that all fire department personnel be trained in the use of heat packs and use them in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications to ensure safe application and zero injury.

The Porters acknowledge that all actions taken by Madison Fire Department personnel on behalf of Londyn were done in good faith to render assistance in an emergency circumstance.

Original Story: A local Rexburg family is suing the city of Rexburg and a paramedic for burning their newborn baby.

According to court documents, Troyce Miskin a paramedic for the Rexburg Fire Department is being sued for “gross negligence” when he provided medical care to a newborn baby girl.

Idaho law states the definition of gross negligence as follows, “It is distinguished as a matter of degree from ordinary negligence. Gross negligence involves carelessness that is so great that there was not just an absence of the ordinary care that should have been exercised, but a degree of negligence substantially greater than that which would constitute ordinary negligence.”

Miskin and the city are being sued by Michael Porter and Jenise Porter. The Porters claim the city of Rexburg is negligent in the training provided to Miskin.

Under I.C. 31-3909 and 56-1014 paramedics are granted immunity from suit under these kinds of situations, however, these statues do not provide immunity when a paramedic acts with gross negligence.

According to court documents, t wo ambulances were dispatched to the Porter residence on August 12, 2014, which is standard practice. One team provided care to the mother and the other provided care to the baby.

When the baby was delivered she showed signs of distress and was removed from her mother’s care.

Baby Porter was taken by ambulance to Madison Memorial Hospital to the Labor and Delivery Unit. To help retain heat she was wrapped in a foil wrap and heat packs were applied over the blankets outside the foil wrap.

Newborn Londyn Porter, sustained deep second degree burns to her buttocks and right leg. According to the Porters the packs used on Londyn were known to reach excess heat of 130 degrees and caused severe burns.

According to Dr. Richard Jones who treated Londyn in the neonatal intensive care unit, Londyn’s treatment for the burns required daily debridement for 24 weeks.

It is undisputed that the burns resulted from Miskin’s use of the heat pack in the ambulance.

According to Miskin’s court affidavit, he said, “I have delivered many babies and the protocol is the same for each delivery. The baby is always immediately wrapped in blankets to help the baby retain heat. If a baby has difficulty maintaining a temperature within normal limits, we will use a heat pack to keep the baby warm. The heat packs are never applied to a baby’s skin and are always placed on the outside of the blankets.”

The city is fighting the lawsuit and argues that the actions Miskin took were within the standard of care.

Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill said, “We are confident that our paramedic Troyce Miskin did what was designed to save Baby Londyn’s life. An unfortunate accident occurred that caused the burn and we are sorry it happened.”

He adds, “Moving forward we have gone back to the heat packs we originally used. The brand of heat pack used in this particular case was provided because our normal heat packs were back ordered.”

City Attorney Stephen P. Zollinger said, “Throughout the course of this case, the City of Rexburg has been open to resolution. We simply were unwilling to minimize the life-saving efforts of our paramedic crew by second guessing their decision making.”

According to Memorandum Decision on the City of Rexburg’s motion for summary judgment, “the court found that there are genuinely disputed issues of material fact present in this case concerning whether Miskin and the city acted with gross negligence. Because of these disputed facts, the court cannot conclude as a matter of law that the defendants are immune from liability for Londyn’s injury. Therefore, the City of Rexburg’s Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.”

A jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 9 a.m.

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